Absconding from parole or probation is when the location of a parolee is unknown. This could also mean a parolee left their jurisdiction without permission.
Parole and probation are forms of an extended sentence. A parolee serves this sentence in the community instead of in a prison or jail. A parole or probation officer helps enforce this sentence.
There is a slight difference between parole and probation. Parole is an early release from jail or prison. Probation is an alternative from going to jail.
Regular meetings with court officers and a set of rules come with both sentences. The court also establishes an area that the parolee must stay within. This area often times is in the court’s jurisdiction but it can also be a whole county, city, or state.
To abscond is to leave that area without permission.
Why Do People Abscond?
Coming out of prison or starting a sentence on probation is a hard transition that many felons must do. The expectations to live and behave a certain way can be difficult. It can be even harder if you spent a significant amount of time there.
Whether you are on parole or probation, you are still serving a sentence for a crime you have committed. There are many restrictions on what you can do and where you can go.
Serving parole or probation may be a better option than serving time in jail, but the stress and hardships that come with serving a sentence do not go away.
For many convicted people, finding a job is one of the hardest parts of trying to get back into society. There are a lot of opportunities to find work, but most of the available work is not “ideal” to most convicted felons.
Having to remain in a set jurisdiction AND find a job can be challenging. These restrictions don’t give felons much to work with.
Many felons might find this hard to deal with. They will try to look for work or other opportunities outside of the court’s jurisdiction. People may leave to go look for opportunities elsewhere.
Loved ones, family, and friends may also live outside of a jurisdiction that a parolee may want to go see. All these different factors coming together can motivate someone to want to “get out”.
Penalties for Absconding
Being on parole or probation is still serving a sentence. Any violations of that sentence come with penalties.
The penalties can vary and each court can make different decisions. The parole officer is usually the one who makes the decision.
Some minor penalties for absconding include: simple warnings, fines, or mandatory attendance at parole hearings.
More serious penalties include serving some time in prison or serving the rest of your sentence in prison. None of these are good outcomes and only end up with more trouble for the parolee.
If you abscond from parole or get accused of absconding there will have to be a trial. There needs to be enough evidence against you that proves you absconded. You can (and should) have a lawyer present to help defend your case. You can also appeal the decision to a higher court if necessary.
How to Avoid Absconding
It may seem pretty easy not to abscond at first. But there are a lot of different things going on at once that could influence your decision. These are some tips to help you stay in your jurisdiction, and out of trouble.
Understand the jurisdiction. Make sure you are 100% clear with where the boundaries are and know not to cross them. The area of where you can live (your jurisdiction) is often the court’s area of authority. This can be a whole county, city, or state.
Take the time to discuss with a parole/probation officer where you can and cannot go. Make sure you don’t have any doubts or questions about it.
Find and maintain a job. Getting a job is one of the best and quickest ways to begin a transition from prison life back to living in a community. Having and keeping a job might also be one of the requirements of your parole or probation.
Having a job also keeps you accountable to yourself and to the people who depend on you. It forces you to show up to work every day and helps you build the discipline to do so. Even if the job you have right now isn’t the one you want to do forever, parole or probation is a temporary time. As soon as you’ve finished your sentence you will have the freedom to go out and find better jobs.
You should also take this time to find better jobs. Learn about the jobs you want and what you need to do to apply to them.
Get involved in the community. This is your chance to get back on your feet and be a productive member of society. Find some hobbies or local groups in your area in which you can participate.
Think about the things you enjoy doing. Then, find some social groups or people who enjoy doing those things. Being involved in the community gives you something to look forward to when you’re working. It also keeps you busy and could keep you away from the temptation of returning to crime.
Involving yourself in the community is another way to serve your community. You use your time and effort to help build community programs and events.
Have like-minded friend groups. There is a saying that says you are the average of the five people you spend time with the most. Your environment and the people you spend time with can influence your behavior.
Hanging around people who have bad habits will rub off onto you. You will become the average of that friend group. The same will happen if you stay around the same people you were with before you had to serve a sentence. Odds are you will end up back in the same situations that got you into trouble in the first place.
Having motivated friends with good habits will influence your behavior for the better. Many successful people claim spending time with better people made them better. Being with better people motivated them to be better people, and the same effect can happen to you. Take who you spend time with as a serious task.
Meet some people at work who you like, or at community events. Avoid people involved in trouble or who don’t have your best interests in mind. Spend time with the better people and you will notice a shift in your own ways of thinking and seeing things.
You may have friends who live outside of your jurisdiction. If that’s the case then reach out and invite them down to spend some time with you. Introduce them to some of the new friends you’ve made and show them how many improvements you’ve made.
Invest in alone time. Having friends, being a good worker, and doing a lot of hobbies are all great things. But everybody needs to have some down time to themselves. Down time is when you can focus on yourself more intently. Having things to do when you are by yourself is as healthy as being out with friends and working.
Think about the things that bring you the most peace. This can be walking around, painting, meditating, reading, writing, whatever. Do these things by yourself. It should involve a lot of self reflection. Time with yourself is important because it allows you to get to know yourself more. You can develop more from within.
You want to have activities that help take your mind off your current situation.
Communicate with your parole/probation officer. This is the most important part of how to avoid absconding. If you want to go somewhere like visit friends or family you can talk to your parole officer about it. There is no harm in asking and they may let you go where you want.
All Summed Up
Absconding is leaving your parole/probation jurisdiction without getting approval. You must get approval from your parole/probation officer if you want to leave your assigned area.
Absconding is a violation of your parole and it does come with penalties than can put you back in prison.
The best way to avoid absconding is to get a job, have hobbies, and have a supportive friend group that wants you to do well.