Chapter 2: Initial Reporting to Probation Office (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)
A. Statutory Authority
Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(15), the court may provide that the defendant “report to a probation officer as directed by the court or the probation officer.”
B. Standard Condition Language
You must report to the probation office in the federal judicial district where you are authorized to reside within 72 hours of your release from imprisonment, unless the probation officer instructs you to report to a different probation office or within a different time frame.1
- This condition serves the statutory sentencing purposes of public protection and rehabilitation. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(C) and (D).
- This condition enables the probation officer to satisfy the statutory requirements to be responsible for any defendant known to be in the judicial district, instruct the defendant about the conditions of supervision specified by the sentencing court, keep informed of the conduct and condition of the defendant, report the defendant’s conduct and condition to the sentencing court, and aid the defendant and bring about improvements in his or her conduct and condition. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3603(1)-(4) and (7), 3563(d), 3583(f).
- This condition allows the probation office to begin the supervision process. Social science research indicates that many of the defendants who violate their conditions do so during the first six months of supervision. It is therefore important that probation officers become involved as early as possible in planning the transition from prison to community-based supervision.
D. Method of Implementation
- In cases where defendants are released to the community after a period of imprisonment, the probation office collaborates with the Bureau of Prisons to monitor pending release dates for defendants. This practice allows the probation office to assign a probation officer to each defendant in advance of release from custody.
- After notification of a defendant’s projected release date, the probation officer provides instructions to the defendant regarding the preferred method of satisfying the requirement to report to the probation office. When the defendant is imprisoned, the instructions may be communicated through a Bureau of Prisons representative, by letter, or through a family member involved in the release planning process. When the defendant is released from a residential reentry center, the instructions may be communicated at an in-person meeting. (Note: The term “residential reentry center” applies to the variety of community facilities with which the Bureau of Prisons contracts for halfway house services.)
- The initial investigation of defendants released from imprisonment starts as soon as the probation office is advised of the defendant’s upcoming release. The probation officer develops the initial supervision plan within 30 days after the start of the supervision term, unless notice of the defendant’s pending arrival was not received in time. If notice of the defendant’s pending arrival is not received in time, the probation officer develops the initial supervision plan within 60 days after the start of the supervision term. For probationers, the initial supervision plan is developed within 60 days of the start of the supervision term.
- The objective is to have as much of the supervision structure as possible in place before the beginning of supervision. For example, as necessary, probation officers should develop relationships with the defendant’s social support network in the community, initiate requests for modification of conditions, make arrangements for basic needs (e.g., housing), and make appropriate referrals so that any required restrictive and correctional placements will coincide as closely as possible with release.
- Bureau of Prisons inmates generally spend a portion of the final months of the term of imprisonment in a period of prerelease custody in home confinement or a residential reentry center in the community.2 In these cases, the probation office collaborates with the Bureau of Prisons to assist with community reintegration and begin the community supervision process.
- In some cases, inmates are released from the Bureau of Prisons without a period of prerelease custody in home confinement or a residential reentry center.3 The probation system uses various methods to track inmate release dates to ensure that inmates released without a period of prerelease custody receive community supervision, including monitoring release through electronic case management systems and contacting local and state jails or prisons where inmates are held.
- When defendants fail to report to the probation office within 72 hours of release or sentencing, the probation office initiates efforts to locate the defendant, including relying on automated criminal record checks, contacting last-known associates, or requesting assistance from other law enforcement agencies. Failure to promptly locate the defendant results in notification to the court.
1 This condition applies to defendants released to the community after a period of imprisonment. For probation cases, the condition is: “You must report to the probation office in the federal judicial district where you are authorized to reside within 72 hours of the time you were sentenced, unless the probation officer instructs you to report to a different probation office or within a different time frame.”
2 Under 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(1)-(2), the Bureau of Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, ensure that an inmate spends a portion of the final months of the term of imprisonment under conditions (including in home confinement or at a residential reentry center) that will afford the inmate a reasonable opportunity to adjust to and prepare for reentry into the community. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(3), the United States Probation System shall, to the extent practicable, offer assistance to an inmate during this period of prerelease custody.
3 This may occur for numerous reasons including when defendants have local, state, or federal detainers for new crimes or violations during prior terms of community release; when defendants have immigration detainers; when the Bureau of Prisons determines that inmates are not in need of reentry services; and when the Bureau of Prisons determines that inmates present a risk to community safety.