Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In the United States, few convicts serve their entire sentence in prison. Instead, most are released on parole. From the French parole meaning “word of honor,” parole was originally a means of releasing prisoners of war who promised not to resume fighting. Parole refers to the discretionary release of prison inmates by a parole board, although the term is sometimes used to identify any release of an inmate before the expiration of his or her sentence. The practice has its roots in the British penal system, in particular the “Irish system” of Walter Crofton. In 1853 the British Parliament enacted the Penal Servitude Act, which allowed prison inmates to be released on a “ticket of leave,” an early British term for what later became known as parole. The following year, Sir Walter Crofton became director of the Irish prison system. Crofton felt that prison programs should be directed toward reformation, ...