- Parole is a system of releasing a prisoner with suspension of the sentence. The release is conditional, usually subject to behaviour, and requires periodic reporting to the authorities for a set period of time. Parole is considered a reformative process. The provision (along with furlough) was introduced with a view to humanising the prison system.
- In the United States and Britain, every sentence above 18 months is eligible for parole, after completion of one-third of prison time.
- In India, parole (as well as furlough) are covered under The Prisons Act of 1894. Prisoners convicted of multiple murders or under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) are not eligible for parole.
- Since prisons is a State subject in the Constitution, the Prisons Act of each state government defines the rules under which parole is granted in that state.
- State governments have their own Prisoner Release on Parole Rules. For instance, in Rajasthan, initial parole is granted for 20 days; a second parole is for 30 days, and a third for 40 days. Thereafter, the prisoner can apply for permanent parole.
- Parole is granted by the state executive — the jail authorities submit the report to state government — and the competent authority takes a final decision on grant of parole on humanitarian considerations.
- If a plea for parole is rejected, the convict can move the High Court challenging the order of the competent authority.
- Apart from regular parole, the superintendent of a jail can also grant parole up to a period of seven days in emergencies. For instance, actor Sanjay Dutt was granted parole on medical grounds; and Santosh Kumar Singh, who is serving a life term for the 1996 rape and murder of law student Priyadarshini Mattoo, was granted three weeks’ parole to write his LLM examination.
- This is a concept broadly similar to parole, but with some significant differences. Furlough is given in cases of long-term imprisonment. The period of furlough granted to a prisoner is treated as remission of his sentence.
- Furlough is seen as a matter of right for a prisoner, to be granted periodically irrespective of any reason, and merely to enable the prisoner to retain family and social ties, and to counter the ill-effects of prolonged time spent in prison.
- Parole, by contrast, is not seen as a matter of right, and is given to a prisoner for a specific reason, such as a death in the family or a wedding of a blood relative.
- Parole may be denied to a prisoner even when he makes out a sufficient case, if the competent authority is satisfied that releasing the convict would not be in the interest of society.
- Parole is often not granted to convicts sentenced to death, or to those who, in the opinion of jail authorities, are likely to flee when released from prison.