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Supervision is a court ordered sentence issued as an alternative to jail or prison (Probation) or part of a sentence following the service of a custody sentence (Supervised Release). Individuals under supervision are assigned to a probation officer who is responsible for monitoring offenders and ensuring they comply with the conditions the court set for their release to the community.

Supervision in the federal system is:

  • A core responsibility of U.S. probation and pretrial services officers, along with investigation.
  • A way to monitor the activities and behavior of people released to the community by the federal courts or paroling authorities.
  • An opportunity to help offenders reintegrate into the community following a period of incarceration.
  • In the case of probation, a punishment that is less severe than imprisonment, but still holds people accountable for breaking the law.
  • An alternative to jail or prison that costs less than incarceration and gives people charged with or convicted of federal crimes the opportunity to live with their families, hold jobs, and be productive members of society.

Conditions of Supervised Release

At the start of an offender’s community supervision, a probation officer will fully explain to an offender the conditions of his or her release. These conditions may include mandatory conditions required by law, standard conditions which the court imposes on all offenders, as well as discretionary conditions which the court imposes to provide probation officers with the authority to address risk related issues specific to a particular offender.

Mandatory conditions required by law include prohibition against possessing firearms and registration requirements for certain offenses, among others.  The standard conditions of supervision can be found by clicking this link.  Discretionary conditions may include, among other things, home detention, substance abuse testing or treatment, mental health treatment, and the disclosure of financial information.

Process of Supervision

The process of supervising an offender begins with a probation officer evaluating the offender through an interview and risk assessment tool, which allows the officer to identify factors that must be taken into account in developing the offender’s individualized supervision plan. From the start and throughout supervision, the officer will assess and reassess the potential risk that an offender poses to the community, and address the offender's other needs. Continued assessments allow the probation officer to adjust his or her personal contact and interventions with the offender accordingly. The supervision plan developed by the officer will address any obstacles that may impede an offender’s ability or desire to complete supervision successfully and will provide for services, such as substance abuse or mental health treatment that the offender may require.

Early termination of Supervision

Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 3564(c) and 3583(e)(1) permit the Court to terminate terms of probation in misdemeanor cases at any time and terms of supervised release or probation in felony cases after expiration of one year of supervision if satisfied that such action is warranted by the conduct of the offender and in the interest of justice.