02. Supervised Release
"Sooner or later we've all got to let go of our past."
- Dan Brown, Deception Point
In 1984, as part of the Sentencing Reform Act (“SRA”) that created the federal sentencing guidelines system, Congress eliminated parole and established Supervised Release. Supervised release is a type of post-confinement monitoring that is overseen by federal district courts with the assistance of U.S. Probation. Almost every prison term that a person receives also comes with a post incarceration period of supervised release that can range from 3 to 5 years. Supervised release begins on the day the defendant is released from imprisonment (after halfway house) and runs concurrently with any other term of release, probation, or parole.
U.S. Probation Officers are community corrections professional who serve as officers of the court and as agents of the U.S. Parole Commission. They are responsible for supervision of people released from prison for the entirety of your supervision. You will typically have the same probation officer unless there is a change in staffing or if you move to a new district, something we will cover later.
Every officer is going to be different but their job is to assess risks, needs and strengths of each person they supervise. Based on this, they determine the level of supervision required. For example, should the person come in monthly for an assessment or can they go months with only minor interaction with Probation.
When assessing the risk of a person on supervision, the officer will use these following factors to assess the person's likelihood of reoffending (oversight required):
- Low Self Control
- Anti-Social Personality
- Antisocial Values and Beliefs
- Criminal Peers
- Substance Abuse
- Dysfunctional Family
The officer has the right to ask to enter your residence or look through your vehicle upon request. They can also show up at work or speak with friends and family about your life and behavior. Again, these steps are usually only taken when there have been incidents that justify it. Officers are not going to show up on the first job that you get unless there is something you have done to justify the visit, like lying about being at work.
Even though there are a number of rules associated with Supervised Release, its goals are to assist individuals in their transition to community life, arranging for any additional correctional treatments and to make sure that they follow all of the conditions which have been set by the judge. It is not a substitute for imprisonment, but an additional requirement following a term of commitment in prison. While much better than prison, supervised release still has the feeling of living with limited amounts of freedom.
In this section we talk about the rules and and the best way to manage your life under supervised release.