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Early Termination of Supervision Cost-Effective and Safe

A federal Judiciary study of early termination of supervision of low-risk offenders shows that the practice not only saves money, it does so without compromising public safety.

Three years after being released from supervision only 10.2 percent of early-term offenders had been rearrested, while 19.2 percent of full-term offenders were rearrested. Early termination is the policy of terminating a term of supervised release and discharging the defendant at any time after the expiration of one year of supervised release, providing certain criteria are met. 

Early-term offenders save the probation and pretrial services system time when officers are no longer required to supervise them. Offenders receive early release from supervision an average of 15.7 months before their scheduled supervision term is set to expire. This, according to the report, allows districts to devote more resources to supervising and servicing offenders who are a greater risk to society.

Early termination also saves money. In fiscal year 2012, the supervision of more than 7,000 offenders was terminated early, saving the Judiciary more than $7.7 million.

“This practice promotes justice, conserves resources, and protects the public,” said Judge Robert Holmes Bell, chair of the Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law.

The report looked at cases closed in FY 2008, then tracked for three years after supervision terms ended to see whether or not new crimes were committed. There were 15,266 cases of offenders with terms of supervised release following imprisonment and probation cases closed in fiscal year 2008, of which 3,814 were for early termination and 11,452 were for successful expiration of term.

The Judicial Conference endorsed early termination in 2003, as part of revised post-conviction supervised release policies. Under this policy, and according to statute, a court may terminate the terms of probation in felony cases after one year of supervision, if the offender’s conduct warrants the change and it is in the interest of justice to do so. 

Criteria were created by the Judicial Conference to help probation officers properly identify offenders for early termination of supervision. Those criteria include stable community reintegration; progressive strides toward supervision objectives; no history of violence and no aggravated role in the offense of conviction; no recent evidence of alcohol or drug abuse, or psychiatric episodes; and no identifiable risk to public safety.

Related Topics: Probation and Pretrial Services