In the United States, courts may specify in a sentence how much time must be served before a prisoner is eligible for parole.
In most states, the decision of whether an inmate is paroled is vested in a paroling authority, such as a parole board.
Before being granted the privilege of parole, the inmate meets with members of the parole board and is interviewed.
A number of states have abolished discretionary parole, including Florida, New York, Mississippi and California.
Many states now permit sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.