Last updated on: 4/25/2008 | Author:

Are Felons on Probation or Parole Considered to Be Still Serving Their Term of Imprisonment?

PRO (yes)


The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Samson v. California (June 19, 2006, No. 04-9728) stated:

“Parolees, who are on the ‘continuum’ of state-imposed punishments, have fewer expectations of privacy than probationers, because parole is more akin to imprisonment than probation is…

An inmate electing to complete his sentence out of physical custody remains in the Department of Corrections’ legal custody for the remainder of his term and must comply with the terms and conditions of his parole.”

June 19, 2006 - Samson v. California


The Colorado Supreme Court ruling in Danielson v. Dennis (July 31, 2006) stated:

“The intent of the constitutional phrase ‘full term of imprisonment’ in article VII, section 10 [of the Colorado state constitution] is to restore an incarcerated person’s full rights upon completion of the entire duration of his or her sentence, or upon a pardon from the Governor.

A person who is serving a sentence of parole has not served his or her full term of imprisonment within the meaning of this constitutional provision.”

July 31. 2006 - Danielson v. Dennis


Jeremy Travis and Sarah Lawrence, researchers with Urban Institute, stated in their Nov. 5, 2002 article “Beyond the Prison Gates The State of Parole in America,” published on the Urban Institute’s website:

“In the classic indeterminate sentencing model, a prisoner released on parole is not free. Rather, he or she is still serving a criminal sentence, in the community rather than in prison, and must abide by a number of conditions established by the parole board at the time of release.”

Nov. 5, 2002 - Jeremy Travis, JD, MPA Sarah Lawrence, MPP

CON (no)


John Paul Stevens, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stated in his June 19, 2006 dissent in Samson v. California:

“First, it is simply not true that a parolee’s status, vis-a-vis either the State or the Constitution, is tantamount to that of a prisoner or even materially distinct from that of a probationer…

In any event, the notion that a parolee legitimately expects only so much privacy as a prisoner is utterly without foundation.”

June 19, 2006 - John Paul Stevens, JD


The U.S. Supreme Court concurring opinion by Justice Kennedy in United States v. Granderson, Jr. (Mar. 22, 1994, No. 92-1662) stated:

“Without belaboring the point, probation is a form of ‘conditional liberty,’ while imprisonment is nothing of the sort.”

Mar. 22, 1994 - U.S. v. Ganderson


William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stated in his Mar. 22, 1994 dissent in United States v. Granderson, Jr.:

“Whatever the differences between supervised released [parole] and probation, surely supervised release is more like probation than it is like imprisonment.”

Mar. 22, 1994 - William Hubbs Rehnquist, LLB