Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It regulates social conduct and proscribes threatening, harming, or otherwise endangering the health, safety, and moral welfare of people. It includes the punishment of people who violate these laws. Criminal law differs from civil law, whose emphasis is more on dispute resolution and victim compensation than on punishment.
A parole board is a panel of people who decide whether an offender should be released from prison on parole after serving at least a minimum portion of their sentence as prescribed by the sentencing judge. Parole boards are used in many jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. A related concept is the board of pardons and paroles, which may deal with pardons and commutations as well as paroles.
A parole board consists of people qualified to make judgements about the suitability of a prisoner for return to free society. Members may be judges, psychiatrists, or criminologists. Many states do not have written qualifications for parole board members and will allow community members to serve in that capacity. Some states require all members to possess a 4 year degree, while others do not. Each state has a different requirement for parole board appointment. The universal requirement is that the candidate for membership has to be of good moral fiber.
Parole officers and probation officers play a role in criminal justice systems by supervising offenders released from incarceration or sentenced to non-custodial sanctions such as community service. In some jurisdictions parole or probation officers are involved in presenting reports on offenders and making sentencing recommendation to courts of law.