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Probation and Parole

What is probation and parole?

They are terms of referring to community supervision of offenders. These opportunities are given by a judge, the Department of Corrections or the state Board of Pardons and Parole for offenders to return to their communities and live supervised, productive, law-abiding lives while holding jobs, paying taxes and supporting families.

What is the difference between probation and parole and conditional release?

Offenders are placed on probation by a district judge after pleading guilty and receiving a deferred or suspended sentence. Although supervised by the Department of Corrections, probationers remain under the legal jurisdiction of the sentencing judge. Offenders are placed on parole by the state Board of Pardons and Parole after serving time in a prison. 

What is conditional release?

Offenders sentenced by a judge to the Department of Corrections and placed in a community corrections program are discharged from the program to community supervision on conditional release.

Who determines when an offender is eligible for parole?

Offenders are eligible for parole from prison once they have completed a fourth of their sentence. This time is calculated by the Corrections Department and credit is given for all time served for the offense, including any jail time. The Board of Pardons and Parole has the discretion to decide whether an offender is ready for release.

How many offenders are on probation or parole?

About 8,400 offenders are supervised by Probation and Parole, or about two-thirds of all offenders managed by the department.

How many employees are there within the Probation and Parole Bureau?

The bureau has 220 employees:

  • Administrative support staff – 13.5
  • Probation officer assistant – 1
  • Regional administrative assistants – 6
  • Probation officer technicians – 9.5
  • Institutional probation & parole officers – 14.5
  • Probation & parole officers – 142.5
  • Probation & parole officer IIs (supervisors) – 23
  • Offender database compliance technician – 1
  • Bureau chief assistant – 1
  • Bureau programs manager – 1
  • Regional administrators – 6
  • Bureau chief – 1

What’s the average workload of a probation or parole officer?

About 77 cases, although officers with specialized caseloads have fewer, more intensive cases.

Do officers receive training?

Yes, they have annual training and officers with specialized caseloads receive additional training.

How much does it cost to supervise someone on probation or parole?

About $4.62 a day, compared with about $100 a day in prison.

Do offenders pay anything for their supervision on probation or parole?

Offenders pay a monthly supervision fee of $21. The money is used to provide training and equipment to probation and parole officers and to pay rent for probation and parole offices.

How do offenders on probation or parole pay restitution to the victims of their crimes?
Payments are made to a collections unit in the Department of Corrections, which disburses the money directly to victims.

What kinds of restrictions are typically imposed on probationers and parolees?

Offenders usually are prohibited from drinking, using drugs, possessing firearms and entering bars. A judge also can restrict who an offender associates with and where an offender can travel. Violent and sexual offenders must register their addresses with the state Justice Department. Restrictions can be imposed by a judge, Board of Pardons and Parole or the Corrections Department.

Can offenders on probation or parole vote?

Yes.

Can offenders on probation or parole hunt?

No, because they are prohibited from possessing deadly weapons.

Can offenders work in bars?

Generally no. Most conditions of supervision include restrictions on frequenting such places. Suitable employment must be approved by an offender’s probation or parole officer.

Can an offender convicted of felony drunken driving legally operate a motor vehicle while under community supervision?

Yes, but only with the permission of the offender’s probation or parole officer and that occurs rarely. Offenders must demonstrate they are a low risk to re-offend by living lawfully for two years and being actively involved in a self-help group before being considered. 

Are offenders on supervision allowed to live or travel wherever they want?

No. Residences must be approved by the supervising officer, and travel outside an assigned area can only occur when an officer has granted permission to the offender.

Can probation and parole officers conduct a search without a warrant?

Yes, as long as they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the offender has violated a law or a restriction on their community supervision.

How many chances do probation and parole officers give offenders?

An officer has a great deal of discretion in matters of violations. Offenders are held accountable for every violation in different ways. In making these decisions, officers generally weigh the severity of the case, the risk an offender presents and the need for public safety.

What proportion of probation or parole revocations occur due to a new crime?

About 14 percent

At what rate do offenders recidivate (return to prison for any reason within three years of release)?

The most recent overall recidivism rate is 39.2 percent. The rate for males is 39.9 percent and the rate for females is 34.4 percent.

How do probationers end up in prison?

If a probationer violates the terms and conditions of his or her sentence, a probation officer files a report of violation. A district judge holds a hearing to determine whether any of the alleged violations occurred. If the judge finds a violation, the court may revoke the suspended or deferred sentence and impose a sentence of imprisonment.

When do most offenders most often return to a correctional program?

About 56 percent of men and 46 percent of women return within the first year.

Are people who committed misdemeanors supervised on probation and parole?

State law allows the Probation and Parole Bureau to supervise only those offenders convicted of felonies. The only exceptions are misdemeanor cases transferring from other states.

Is probation only a slap on the wrist with little punitive or rehabilitative value?

No. It is an opportunity for an offender to avoid a prison term, and perhaps even clear his or her record of a conviction in the case of a deferred sentence. Probation, like parole, comes with restrictions that many offenders find onerous and difficult to follow. Restrictions on travel, residence, employment, alcohol and weapons are ones that many offenders find more difficult than incarceration. Living in a community where many know of the offender, paying restitution and being supervised demands a high level of accountability.

How many types of probation supervision are there?

Two, based on deferred and suspended sentences. Sentences can be deferred for 1-6 years on certain conditions. When an offender successfully completes the deferred term, a district judge may allow him or her to change a plea of guilty to not guilty, dismisses the original case and erases the charge from an offender’s record. A judge may impose a period of incarceration up to the maximum allowed by law and suspend any or all of the term. Offenders given a suspended sentence do not have the conviction removed from their record after completing the sentence.

How does probation and parole use electronic monitoring?

Offenders placed into the intensive supervision program (ISP) are required to have a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week agenda that is regulated by an ISP officer, who also can require an offender to wear an electronic monitoring device based on risk and need. It ensures an offender is in his or her home when not working, in treatment or providing community service.  The department also utilizes electronic monitoring of alcohol use by DUI offenders.

How is electronic monitoring used with sex offenders?

State law requires use of global positioning system (GPS) monitoring devices for the highest-risk sex offenders.

What is private probation?

Private, nonprofit organizations contract with cities and counties for supervision of offenders convicted in Justice or City courts.