Main content

Chapter 2: Leaving the Judicial District (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)

A. Statutory Authority

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(14), the court may provide that the defendant “remain within the jurisdiction of the court, unless granted permission to leave by the court or a probation officer.”

B. Standard Condition Language

You must not knowingly leave the federal judicial district where you are authorized to reside without first getting permission from the court or the probation officer.

C. Purpose

  1. This condition serves the statutory sentencing purposes of public protection and rehabilitation. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(C) and (D).
  2. 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).
  3. This condition allows the probation officer to supervise the defendant by setting boundaries for travel without permission and by keeping the probation officer informed of the defendant’s whereabouts.
  4. This condition allows the probation officer to implement supervision methods demonstrated by social science to be effective at achieving positive outcomes.
    1. Research suggests that correctional interventions that follow the principles of evidence-based practices (e.g., the risk principle, the need principle, and the responsivity principle) promote positive change in the defendant and reduce the probability of recidivism. Probation officers employ evidence-based correctional practices in their interactions with defendants and direct defendants to services to assist them – such as substance abuse or mental health treatment, medical care, training, or employment assistance – as ordered by the court. If probation officers are not aware of the defendant’s whereabouts, they are unable to implement effective supervision practices (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(1)).
    2. Research suggests that exposure to antisocial associates increases the probability of recidivism. If probation officers are not aware of the defendant’s whereabouts, they are not able to implement strategies to reduce antisocial associations (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(2)).
    3. Research suggests that the probability of recidivism is reduced when defendants develop and maintain prosocial bonds to family, school, and work. If probation officers are not aware of the defendant’s whereabouts, they are not able to implement strategies to assist with the development and maintenance of prosocial bonds (see: Chapter 1, Section III).
    4. Research suggests that for a criminal event to occur there must be an opportunity to commit a crime. Probation officers may work with defendants on supervision, family members, neighbors, other community members, and law enforcement agencies to structure and monitor the defendant’s routine activities and reduce the extent to which defendants come into contact with criminal opportunities. Probation officers may also monitor defendants through contacts with the defendant and his or her social network, verifying employment, restricting travel, and providing positive reinforcement for prosocial routine activities. If probation officers are not aware of the defendant’s whereabouts, they are not able to implement supervision strategies to reduce criminal opportunities (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(4)).

D. Method of Implementation

  1. At the beginning of the supervision process, the probation officer explains – and ensures that the defendant understands – the geographical boundaries of the judicial district.
  2. The probation officer also explains and ensures that the defendant understands the procedure for requesting permission to travel outside of the district. The defendant should be instructed to submit any travel request in advance to allow the probation officer sufficient time to verify the nature and purpose of the travel.
  3. Before allowing travel outside of the district, probation officers should make an assessment of any risk to others that would be posed by the travel; determine whether the defendant is in compliance with conditions of supervision (particularly those requiring payment of criminal or family financial obligations); and assess whether travel would disrupt defendant needs, including the maintenance or securing of employment, the participation in educational programs, or the strengthening of family ties.
  4. All defendants granted permission to travel should be instructed to call the probation officer upon their return. Probation officers may also require higher-risk defendants to take extra measures, including calling the probation officer at specified times.
  5. Probation officers should seek the express consent of the court before granting a defendant permission to travel outside of the United States. Before initiating the request with the court, probation officers should check with the consulate of the visited country to ensure that any special requirement or restriction on defendant travel can be met.