Generally, a parole is granted upon such terms and conditions as the granting power may see fit as long as they are not immoral, illegal, or impossible in performance. It is to be noted that a state can place conditions on a parole release. The presence of a parole system by itself will not give rise to a constitutionally protected liberty interest in parole release[i]. Rather, a liberty interest is present only if state law entitles an inmate to release on parole[ii].
A person who is allowed to leave the prison earlier for parole will be subjected to specific conditions. These conditions will restrict the activities of such a person substantially beyond the ordinary restrictions imposed by law on an ordinary citizen.
It is to be noted that before determining to revoke a person’s parole depends upon whether the principles of fundamental justice and fairness will afford the parolee a reasonable opportunity to explain away the accusation of a parole violation. The parolee is entitled to a conditional liberty and possessed of a right which can be forfeited only by reason of a breach of the conditions of the grant[iii].
Generally, conditions of parole prohibit such behavior which is deemed dangerous to the restoration of an individual into normal society. Although the parole board is granted wide discretion while deciding upon the conditions of parole, such conditions must not be arbitrary or unreasonable.
In certain jurisdictions, every prisoner must be released six months prior to his/her final discharge date and must serve a minimum of six months on parole[iv]. It is to be noted that a breach of parole conditions is a necessary but not sufficient ground for parole revocation[v].
A person even if s/he is in parole is considered a prisoner. S/he is under daily personal restraint and such a person will be answerable to prison system officials for his/her conduct at anytime. The prison officials have authority to circumscribe his/her freedom of choice and action[vi]. Similarly, if a person violates any terms of parole, it will make him/her subject to arrest and return to prison to serve out the remainder of the term for which s/he was sentenced.
In the case of sex offenders, it is under the discretion of the parole authority to recommend such persons to attend a program for sexual offenders in order to improve the chances of getting parole. However, the denial of parole on the basis of a failure to complete such a program is violative of constitutional rights.
A prisoner can decide whether to accept a parole with the conditions or s/he can reject the same and remain in the prison. However, by accepting a parole, the convict accepts it subject to its conditions and restrictions and is bound to comply with them[vii].
[i] Brandon v. District of Columbia Bd. of Parole, 823 F.2d 644 (D.C. Cir. 1987).
[ii] El v. Lellis, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37852 (W.D. Mich. June 6, 2005).
[iii] Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471 (U.S. 1972).
[iv] Woodley v. Department of Corrections, 74 F. Supp. 2d 623 (E.D. Va. 1999).
[v] Preston v. Piggman, 496 F.2d 270 (6th Cir. Ky. 1974).
[vi] Sellers v. Bridges, 153 Fla. 586 (Fla. 1943).
[vii] Ex parte Patterson, 94 Kan. 439 (Kan. 1915).