by attorney André Bélanger
Many people think probation and parole are interchangeable terms. This belief is reinforced by the fact that the same office supervises probationers and parolees. But, this belief is misplaced.
A Different Agreement
Any one placed onto probation has an agreement with the trial judge that they will not go to jail because of their conviction provided they do certain things. A parolee has a similar agreement but theirs is with the Department of Corrections who agrees to release them from jail early provided they agree to do certain things.
Revocations Treated Differently
It is not uncommon for probationers and parolees to get arrested and convicted while on probation or parole. What happens to them is drastically different. The Department of Corrections automatically runs the jail sentence to be imposed for a parole revocation consecutive to any time imposed for a new conviction. This does not always happen when a probationer is convicted for a new crime that occurred while on probation. Whether the probationer receives a concurrent or a consecutive sentence is at the discretion of the trial judges presiding over the probationary sentence and the new arrest. As a general rule, the judge who sentences last will control whether the sentences are to run concurrently or consecutively.
“Street Credit” is prison jargon for time served outside of jail while on probation or parole. A parolee whose parole is revoked is given credit for “street time” but, unfortunately, a similarly situated probationer does not get any credit for the time he successfully complied with the conditions of probation.