Parole is the early release of a prisoner who agrees to abide by certain conditions, originating from the French word parole ("speech, spoken words" but also "promise"). The term became associated during the Middle Ages with the release of prisoners who gave their word.
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This differs greatly from pardon, 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.