According to Howard (2007), probation is the release of an offender who has been convicted to the community without sending the person to prison. Such a person is then put under a program of conditional suspended sentence. Parole on the other hand is the release of an offender to the community after he has partly served sentence in a prison or jail and has demonstrated that he/she can conform to the rules and regulations. Howard (2007) explains that even though these practices can potentially reduce overcrowding in prisons and jails, their major aim is rehabilitation and correction of the offenders.
Alternatives to Probation and Parole
Hussey and Duffee (2010) noted that apart from incarceration, other alternatives to probation and parole include restitution, fines and community service. However of the three, community service can suitably serve as the best alternative to probation and parole. It involves the offender being released to the community where he is made do some community work without pay. This has to continue for a given period of time with minimal supervision from a probation officer.
According to Hussey and Duffee (2010), fines and restitution could also serve as alternatives. However, they can only be used where those convicted of crime(s) are able to pay the fines and restitution. In cases where they are not able to pay, incarceration becomes the only alternative.
Although probation and parole have not worked effectively in preventing crimes, the systems cannot completely be phased out because they help to ease overcrowding in prisons. They also allow inmates who have shown improvement in behavior to join their loved ones and engage in activities that are beneficial to society.