Parole is a temporary release of a prisoner who agrees to certain conditions before the completion of the maximum sentence period, originating from the French parole ("voice, spoken words"). The term became associated during the Middle Ages with the release of prisoners who gave their word.
This differs greatly from amnesty or commutation of sentence in that parolees are still considered to be serving their sentences, and may be returned to prison if they violate the conditions of their parole. Conditions of parole often include things such as obeying the law, not voting in an election, refraining from drug and alcohol use, avoiding contact with the parolee's victims, obtaining employment and keeping required appointments with a parole officer. Should a parolee have legal dependents, namely minor children, the parolee may also be required to show cause of being a dedicated caregiver. A specific type of parole is medical parole or compassionate release which is the release of prisoners on medical or humanitarian grounds. Some justice systems, such as the United States federal system, place defendants on supervised release after serving their entire prison sentence; this is not the same as parole. In Colorado, parole is an additional punishment after the entire prison sentence is served, called "mandatory parole", per §18-1.3-401(1)(a)(V)(B).