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Report on Supervised Release of Federal Offenders

July 27, 2010

Since the late 1980s, nearly 1 million federal offenders have been sentenced to terms of supervised release. The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently published a lengthy report that addresses the legal framework of, and most common legal issues connected with, supervised release.

The report explains that supervised release is not synonymous with probation. Like federal probationers, offenders on supervised release are subject to the jurisdiction of federal courts and are monitored by federal probation officers. But supervised release, unlike probation, is not a punishment in lieu of incarceration; it is primarily concerned with helping reintegrate a defendant into the community.

Supervised release is required by certain federal criminal laws, but judges can order such supervision even if it is not statutorily required.

“From 2005 through 2009, sentencing courts imposed supervised release terms in 99.1 percent of such federal cases where supervised release was not statutorily required, and such terms averaged 25 months,” the Sentencing Commission report says.

The report also tracks the history of offenders’ violations while on supervised release. It says that two-thirds of federal offenders successfully completed their terms of supervision and one-third had their terms revoked and were sent back to prison.

You can view the report, a PDF document, at http://www.ussc.gov/general/20100722_Supervised_Release.pdf