Parole and probation are two similar forms of criminal justice, but there are important differences. Parole is a period of supervised release from prison that follows a sentence, while probation is a period of supervised release from court that can be used in lieu of a prison sentence.
Parole is usually granted after an offender has served part of their prison sentence. During the period of parole, the parolee is monitored and must comply with certain conditions, including regular meetings with a parole officer and periodic drug tests. If the parolee violates the terms of their parole, they can be sent back to prison to complete their sentence.
Probation, on the other hand, is a form of criminal punishment that is imposed by a court instead of a prison sentence. During probation, the offender is monitored and must comply with certain conditions, such as attending counseling, performing community service, or abstaining from certain activities. Probation can be imposed as part of a suspended sentence, meaning that if the offender violates the terms of their probation, the full sentence may be imposed.