Parole is a process that allows a prisoner to be released from prison to experience increased freedom, while remaining under limited supervision. While on parole, the parolee is expected to adhere to specific conditions set forth by the parole board (for example, asking permission before leaving the state). Parole supervision requires periodic meetings with an officer and permits reincarceration of the parolee if the parolee violates the conditions of parole. Social scientists have studied the decision-making processes of parole boards, the effectiveness of parole supervision, and public opinion about parole.

The structure of the parole system, including decision-making criteria, varies considerably among states. Two main forms of parole are (1) mandatory parole and (2) discretionary parole. In some states, parole boards grant parole automatically after the ...

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