Basics of Supervised Release

What is supervised release?

Supervised release is overseen by Federal District Courts with the assistance of federal probation officers.[939] The judge can sentence you to a term of supervised release in addition to a prison sentence.[940] In other words, a term of supervised release does not replace any time you are sentenced to prison; rather, a judge orders supervised release in addition to any term in prison you may serve.[941] In some cases, the judge that sentences you is actually required by law to impose a term of supervised release in addition to a prison term.[942] It’s common today for a federal sentence to include a period of time in prison, followed by a period of time in the community on supervised release.

Helpful HintWhat’s the difference between Supervised Release and Federal Probation?

Federal Probation: Federal probation is a substitute for incarceration, meaning that probation is ordered instead of incarceration. Supervised release: Supervised release is ordered in addition to incarceration. This means that after you are released from prison, you may be placed on supervised release. Note that people on federal probation and supervised release usually have to follow the same or similar rules.

  1. 939

    United States Sentencing Commission, “Federal Offenders Sentenced to Supervised Release,” July 2010 10, p. 1.

  2. 940

    18 U.S.C. § 3583.

  3. 941

    See Unites States Sentencing Commission, Sentencing Guidelines, p. 477,

  4. 942

    See, e.g., 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) (mandating a lifetime term of supervised release for those convicted of certain drug offenses).