parole (pərōl´), in criminal law, release from prison of a convict before the expiration of his term on condition that his activities be restricted and that he report regularly to an officer. The convict generally remains under sentence, and the restrictions (as of residence, occupation, type of associates) and the supervision are intended to prevent a relapse into crime. Any violation of parole may result in return to imprisonment. The procedure of parole is regulated by statute in the jurisdictions of the United States. It is less often administered directly by the executive than it is by a board or officer with the power to release a convict after he has served the minimum of an indeterminate sentence. Parole is designed to give the prisoner a chance to readjust and to expedite the process of rehabilitation. In military law, a parole is the promise by a prisoner of war on being released from confinement that he will remain in a stipulated place, not attempt to escape, and not take up arms again in the current hostilities against the forces that captured him.
See studies by G. Cavender (1982) and H. E. Allen (1985).