Research indicates that many of the offenders who violate their conditions do so during the first six months of supervision. It further shows that it is those offenders received for supervision after serving a period of incarceration who are most likely to violate. It is therefore important that officers become involved as early as possible in planning the transition from prison to supervision.
The officer’s role at the prerelease stage is to:
- maximize opportunities for safe release;
- implement a well-constructed supervision plan at the earliest possible time; and
- promote continuity of services.
The objective is to have as much of the supervision structure as possible in place prior to the offender’s release to supervision. For example, as necessary, officers should develop collateral contacts, initiate requests for modification of conditions, begin to update the financial investigation, and make arrangements for basic needs (e.g., housing, employment search, commence process to obtain identification documents ) and appropriate referrals so that any required restrictive and correctional placements will coincide as closely as possible with release. All release planning activities are to be documented in the chronological record.
Release planning for prisoners coming to supervision after a period of imprisonment is the joint responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the offender, and the probation office
- The BOP offers release planning programs throughout the period of imprisonment, and BOP staff provides the probation office with information pertinent to the safe and effective re-entry and supervision of the offender. A release form signed by the offender is not needed for the BOP to share this information with the probation office.
- The offender develops a proposed plan of release and submits it to BOP or Residential Re-entry Center (RRC) staff who in turn will submit the plan to the probation office for approval. (Note: The term “Regional Re-entry Center” and “RRC” abbreviation is used throughout to apply to the variety of community facilities with which the BOP contracts for half-way house services.)
- The probation officer investigates the offender’s release plan and either approves, modifies, or disapproves the proposed plan; and the officer discusses this with appropriate BOP and/or RRC staff and, if possible, with the offender.
The officer’s role in this process begins when he or she is notified of the prisoner’s upcoming release. BOP staff will send the following materials:
- the Supervision Release Plan;
- the final progress report;
- the BOP sentencing computation sheet;
- the material relevant to transitional treatment needs for substance abuse and mental health; and
- the Judgment in a Criminal Case and the Presentence Report, if the receiving district is not the sentencing district.
Once these documents are received, officers should confer with BOP staff, as needed, to obtain additional background or clarifying information. For example, officers should determine why any offender not being released through an RRC was denied placement. In some instances this is because BOP staff has determined that the offender is not in need of any re-entry services. Other offenders, however, are denied placement because they present too high a risk of recidivism and danger to the community. The result is that some of those offenders most in need of re-entry services are the least likely to have the benefit of graduated release. In these cases, early and ongoing communication between the probation office and BOP prison staff is critical to adequately prepare the supervision structure, e.g., providing for continuity of treatment and medication regimens; arranging for appropriate housing.
In any case, officers are to commence their prerelease planning activities after all relevant information has been reviewed.