Release on parole is an opportunity for an individual sentenced to imprisonment in a penal colony to be released earlier. A prisoner can apply for release on parole, if they have spent a certain portion of their sentence in the colony, which has been determined by the court – for most criminal provisions this means from ⅓ to ½ of the term. At the same time, upon release on parole, the individual needs to have spent no less than 6 months in the colony. For a person sentenced to life imprisonment to be released on parole the individual has to serve 25 years of the sentence.
For the court to consider release on parole, the application has to include documents proving that “the prisoner does not need to serve the full term appointed by the court in order to correct his behavior,” and that he was able to at least partially compensate for the damages caused. The law states that it takes into account “the behavior of the prisoner, his attitude towards education and work during the whole time he was serving his sentence, the present rewards and sanctions…and also the conclusion of the administration of the penal colony about the advisability of granting him release on parole.”
That is to say, the decision regarding granting someone release on parole is practically made on the basis of the evaluation given to the prisoner by the administration of the colony. There are virtually no clear guidelines and as such there are always potential reasons that can be given to refuse someone release on parole. Frequently, a prisoner who previously did not get any sanctions will get a couple of disciplinary punishments right after the submission of the application for release on parole or around the time when he can apply for it. Because of this, in cases involving political prisoners, release on parole becomes an instrument for the political decision, which is difficult to challenge.