Parole is the process by which an individual is released back into the community to serve the remainder of their sentence under the supervision of a parole officer. The individual must abide by certain terms set by the parole board and report to their parole officer on a regular basis. If the individual commits a parole violation, they will have to return to prison for the remainder of their sentence.
Innocence and Parole
Parole presents a difficult situation for innocent inmates. One of the considerations a parole board has when determining whether or not to grant an individual parole is whether the parole candidate has expressed remorse for the crime committed and takes responsibility for their actions. As such, parole presents a unique dilemma for the innocent: when someone who is innocent seeks parole, they cannot accept responsibility and apologize for something they have not done. Innocent parole candidates also face a related problem when being considered for parole: if they truthfully deny culpability, they may be denied parole for this reason alone, but if they admit responsibility to better their chances of parole, this false statement may be used later as a statement of guilt – and prevent them from being able to reverse their conviction in the future. Innocent parole candidates are, therefore, in a no-win situation when it comes to parole – they cannot accept responsibility for a crime they did not commit, but they will never be granted parole if they do not.
Many California Innocence Project clients have beaten the odds and have been released on parole while maintaining their innocence. Even though they were not exonerated, they are free of the confines of prison, and can work toward reintegrating back into society.