In 2021, there were more than 803,000 parolees and 2.9 million probationers.
Imagine how many wives, parents, and children are related to these parolees. These families are now coping with the strain of living with someone under community supervision.
Living with someone on parole can be challenging and result in huge problems if not handled properly.
You’ll need to know what parole is and how it works, the conditions that go with it, and the usual issues a family may encounter when letting a loved one on parole live with them.
This article provides an overview of the parole system and parole’s purpose. It also tackles some pressing issues concerning people on parole.
Furthermore, this article offers helpful tips on how your loved one on parole can cope with life outside prison.
If you need an inmate locator to get your loved one’s records that you may need while they are on parole, visit LookUpInmate.org.
You’ll have access to an extensive database of more than 7,000 correctional facilities in the United States. You’ll also get links to their websites where you can contact them to get the documents you need.
What Is Parole?
Parole is the conditional release given to prisoners before they complete their full sentences. Paroles are among the privileges offered by the U.S. criminal justice system to prisoners who have become eligible by meeting specific conditions of supervision.
What Are Parole Conditions?
Prisoners become eligible for parole once they’ve served a certain portion of their prison term. However, eligibility doesn’t automatically mean an approved parole grant. It’s up to the parole board to determine whether a prisoner deserves this privilege.
The parole board bases its parole grants on many factors. In some states, prisoners become eligible after serving prison time, which may be a third or half of the total sentence term. Prisoners can also become eligible after serving the minimum years of a sentence.
Another factor influencing parole eligibility is good behavior during an inmate’s entire time in prison, with them continually observing rules. However, good behavior alone is not the only basis for a parole grant.
Furthermore, parole eligibility also hinges on the severity of the crime committed. Criminals with serious offenses may have difficulty getting paroled, especially if the person is a risk to public safety.
General or Standard Conditions of Parole
Parole provides an opportunity for an early release from prison, but it comes with general and specific conditions.
If a parolee can’t meet these conditions, it can result in revocation and incarceration. Here are some examples of standard conditions of parole:
- Reporting to a supervising officer (probation officer) regularly
- Setting up residence within a predefined area and not leaving without requesting permission
- Not possessing any guns
- Agreeing to searches conducted by law enforcement officers
- Not violating the law
Special Conditions of Parole
There are cases where parole authorities include special conditions for parole to fit the specific crimes committed by a prisoner. Examples of these special conditions are the following:
- Submitting to random drug and alcohol testing
- Attending drug and alcohol treatment
- Refraining from gambling
- Attending anger management counseling
- Avoiding contact with victims or specified individuals
- Refraining from viewing pornography or sexually explicit materials
Violating Parole Conditions
Parole is not a right but a privilege. Parolees must strictly follow the conditions to remain under the parole program because failing to do so is considered a violation.
The parole officer reports any instance of violation to the parole board for deliberation. Minor offenses can result in sanctions and fines, which the parolee must comply with.
However, serious violations can force the parole board to modify the conditions, include fines and sanctions, or decide to revoke the parole grant. Once the parole board revokes the parole, the parolee returns to prison.
Are Probation and Parole Conditions the Same?
In essence, parole and probation allow defendants to be free from prison while still under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system. However, these two terms have different meanings and purposes.
Probation is an alternative option to serving time in jail or prison. Typically first-time offenders of minor crimes receive probation instead of a prison term.
On the other hand, parole is a privilege granted to those who have already served a considerable part of their prison sentence.
Conducting a Home Placement Investigation for Probation or Parole Cases
Parole or probation can be considered legal “hall passes” from prison authorities to spend the remainder of a sentence outside prison, with specified limitations.
However, parolees and probationers are not free. They’re under the constant supervision of a parole or probation officer. One area that demonstrated the limited freedom of people under community supervision is the application of the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is the individual’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures. However, parolees and probationers can’t enjoy this right.
Houses of people under this out-of-prison privilege must be open for searches and investigations by a parole or probation officer, even without a search warrant.
Home placement investigations (HPI) ensure that the proposed residence of a parolee or probationer strictly conforms to the state’s laws concerning parole and probation.
Information Gathering in the Institution
An HPI starts with gathering information about the proposed residence of a parolee or probationer. Reentry coordinators will then handle this phase of the investigation.
They will visit the actual home and do background checks of those living in the residence, neighbors, and, in the case of a rental accommodation, the house or apartment owner.
Here is a list of information that reentry coordinators must gather:
- History of the offender in the proposed residence and problems the offender has caused in that area
- Names of people living at the residence or surrounding the house and relationships of the offender with these people
- Identifying any residents in the area with a criminal record
- Identifying any potential problems, like animals, that may prevent a parole or probation officer from fulfilling their duties
The Role of the Probation or Parole Officer
After the reentry coordinator completes the preliminary investigation, the findings are submitted to the parole or probation officer. It’s now the job of these officers to follow through with the investigation.
These officers will conduct a more thorough investigation to cover grey areas left by the reentry coordinator.
Parole or probation officers may contact local law enforcement agencies to dig deeper into the offender’s history in the specific residence.
Priorities During a Home Visit
Parole and probation officers can also meet the current residents of the proposed home and orient them to the consequences of living with someone on probation or parole.
These officers can instruct parolees to submit to searches and investigations whenever required.
Notification of Change in Residence (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)
Parolee supervisors must always know the location of the parolee’s residence when under parole or probation. The probation or supervised release conditions include not leaving the approved home without permission.
A. Statutory Authority
The term “statutory authority” means the authority given to an agency or body by Congress or a state legislature.
In the case of changing addresses, the probationer should promptly inform a probation officer of any change of address.
B. Standard Condition Language
The parolee must notify the probation officer of any plans to change residence at least 10 days before they move.
In cases where prompt notification is not possible because of unforeseen circumstances, they must contact the probation officer within 72 hours of being aware of or expecting a change in residence.
The U.S. courts provide the purpose of the need for notification when a probationer changes residence. Here are four points defined by the courts:
- The notification can help ensure public safety and the probationer’s rehabilitation.
- It helps probation officers know the condition of the defendant and help them to improve their lives.
- The notification helps probation officers assess whether the residence change benefits the defendant and their community.
- It also allows probation officers to implement supervision techniques supported by social science to achieve positive results.
D. Method of Implementation
At the beginning of the probation, the probation officer explains the conditions of residence and residence change to the probationer. The defendant is informed that they can notify the probation officer of any residence change through phone call or writing.
The probation officer also needs to know of any change of residence to assess whether the move will benefit the probationer significantly. The officer’s task is to ensure that the probationer will not be at risk in the community they relocate to.
What You Need to Know About Issues People on Parole Face
Parole is a welcome privilege for people who have served years in prison. However, reality shows that despite the benefits of this government privilege, it’s not free of problems and issues.
Issues With Partners and Spouses
Living with someone on parole can be challenging for partners and spouses. However, not all cases end in misunderstandings, disagreements, and, in severe instances, fights and domestic violence.
If you’re a partner or a spouse to a parolee, you should be more understanding and accommodating. However, you should contact a parole officer if your partner becomes violent.
Issues With Children
Child support is another contention between parolees and their families. Fathers on parole may have difficulty bouncing back from the lapses in child support from years spent behind bars.
A parolee often can’t quickly become the breadwinner in the family. So, on top of living with the kids, the parolee may be expected to support the family more significantly.
However, lack of support because of unemployment is not only a cause for concern. Sometimes, work availability may be outside the approved community, and the parolee may have issues reporting to a parole officer.
In this case, you should advise your loved one on parole to contact a parole officer and report the problem. These officers can find ways to be fair in their reporting while allowing the parolee to fulfill their responsibilities to their families.
Issues With Employment
Parolees may be concerned about supporting themselves and their families once outside prison.
Some parolees may have been in jail for so long that they’re already unused to life outside prison and have difficulty assimilating into society.
Employment opportunities can become unavailable to parolees because of the nature of the crimes they’ve committed.
For instance, in California, the courts may prohibit sex offenders from living near or working in places like parks or schools. Other employment opportunities may have these special conditions, which can limit employment only to people with no history of criminal activity.
In cases where the parole officer prevents your loved one from pursuing employment opportunities, report the issue. It’s best to talk to a senior parole officer for resolution. They should never run away from parole supervision.
Issues With Housing
If the parolee has housing concerns, you can advise your loved one to raise this issue with their parole officer. The parole officer will help parolees find housing that will fit their needs.
If an approved housing area doesn’t fit a parolee’s needs or if they feel dissatisfied, they can raise it to their parole officer.
Issues With Drug and Alcohol Abuse
If your loved one’s criminal conviction is caused by drug or alcohol use, drinking alcoholic drinks and using illegal drugs can be a big issue. Remember that a parolee getting intoxicated with alcohol or illicit drugs can result in a parole violation, especially once proven by medical tests.
It’s best to advise your loved one to admit to any instance of alcohol or drug use to their parole officer and cooperate. These officers may obligate parolees to undergo rehabilitation programs or render community service.
Issues With Your Parole Officer
In cases where a parole officer is being unreasonable, parolees shouldn’t run away. They can report the offending officer to the parole officer’s superiors to ensure that the issue is resolved.
Tips for Living With Someone on Parole
Living with someone on parole may be challenging. Many conditions are associated with parole and can affect family members residing with the parolee.
However, here are some tips to help reduce the stress of living with someone on parole.
Tip: Know What the Rules Are
The government gives parole and probation terms to allow prisoners a chance to be better. However, because these are only privileges, parole systems are full of rules, policies, and regulations.
One way to reduce the stress of living with someone on parole is to know the rules yourself.
Tip: Be Prepared to Live the Lifestyle
Living under parole is a lifestyle change. You and your loved one on parole must adapt to the changes associated with this program.
You’ll need to get used to constant supervision and requests for permission when your loved one leaves a specified area.
Also, you need to get used to parole officers‘ regular monitoring of your loved one’s daily activities, required medical tests, and searches in your home.
Tip: Be Ready if the Transition Is Stressful
Some prisoners get accustomed to prison life that they get institutionalized. It may be difficult for a parolee to adapt to the relative freedom provided by parole. Your loved one needs you the most during this adjustment time, so always be available.
Tip: Expect the Parolee to Be a Different Person
Being imprisoned profoundly affects a person, and they may develop behaviors they didn’t have before they went to prison.
You should prepare yourself to know each other all over again. You should be more patient with a parolee even if they’ve developed behaviors that might cause stress.
Tip: Prepare for a Full Schedule
Though parole is considered an early release, once your loved one gets out of prison, they’ll have a full schedule with the parole officer and parole requirements. Your loved one may be asked to do community work, undergo a rehabilitative program, or regularly report to a parole officer.
If you’re the parolee in this situation, it’s best to seek legal advice from a criminal defense attorney. You may have issues and concerns that your parole officer can’t resolve. However, through a solid attorney-client relationship, you can navigate this crucial part of being under the jurisdiction of the U.S. criminal justice system.
LookUpInmate.org provides access to inmate records from over 7,000 U.S. correctional facilities, including federal and state prisons, local jails, military prisons, and immigrant detention facilities.
You can find information on facility regulations, visiting hours, policies for sending money to inmates, and contact details like phone numbers and mailing addresses. You can also get updated on an inmate’s release date to determine when they will rejoin society.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
1. Can a parolee be around a felon?
No, they can’t. A parolee is not allowed to associate with people doing illicit activities or a person with a serious criminal record.
2. Can people on parole be around each other?
No, they can’t. A parolee or probationer can’t be around another parolee and probationer. However, you can be with another person with a criminal record if you have completed your parole or probation sentence.
3. Can someone on probation be around someone on parole?
A person on probation and someone on parole can only be around each other if it’s allowed by the conditions set by the court.
4. Can you travel while on parole in the U.S.?
A parolee is typically allowed to travel out of state during emergency cases. However, the parolee must always advise the parole officer of the scheduled travel.
1. Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2023
3. Eligibility for Parole
4. Parole and Probation Law
5. Conditions of Parole
6. Can Law Enforcement Search You and Your Stuff If You’re on Parole?
7. Statutory authority
18. 18 U.S. Code § 3563 – Conditions of probation
19. Chapter 2: Notification of Change in Residence (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)