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Pretrial supervision is conducted through the U.S. Pretrial Services office which occurs when the Court places an individual on pretrial services release pending the resolution of the pending charges.  Post-conviction supervision is conducted through the U.S. Probation office which occurs after a defendant has been sentenced, and/or after they've been released from incarceration.

The court could release a defendant pending sentencing (Pretrial) or sentence an individual to probation, or to a term of incarceration followed by a term of supervised release (Post-conviction). Pretrial supervision and probation/supervised release are court ordered alternatives to jail or prison. Individuals under supervision (probation, supervised release or pretrial release) are assigned to a probation or pretrial services officer who is responsible for monitoring offenders or defendants and ensuring they comply with the conditions ordered by the court and obey laws.

Supervision in the federal system is:

  • A core responsibility of U.S. probation and U.S. 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.
  • 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 individual’s supervision, a pretrial services or probation officer will fully explain to an individual the conditions of his or her release. These conditions include the mandatory conditions of release which the court imposes on all defendants or offenders and may include discretionary conditions which the court imposes to provide pretrial services and probation officers with the authority to address risk related issues specific to a defendant or offender. 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 a defendant or offender begins with a pretrial services or probation officer evaluating the defendant or individual through an interview and risk assessment tool. This allows the officer to identify factors that must be considered in developing the defendant’s or offender’s individualized supervision plan. Throughout the supervision process, the officer will assess and reassess the defendant’s or offender’s potential risk(s) to another person or the community and address the defendant’s or offender’s other needs. Continued assessments allow the officer to adjust his or her personal contact and interventions with the individual accordingly. The supervision plan developed by the officer will address any obstacles that may impede a defendant’s or 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.