Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Provide Off-Ramp for Those Subject to Supervised Release

Recently a bill was introduced, the Safer Supervision Act, in both the Senate by Senators Chris Coons (D–Del.) and John Cornyn (T–Texas) and in the House by Reps. Wesley Hunt (R–Texas) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D–Texas) that would make it easier for certain individuals to be released from federal supervised release after their release from the Bureau of Prisons, often for multiple years. Currently, a vast majority of those sentenced at the federal level include some period of supervised release, 82% in the fiscal year 2022 according to a Department of Justice Report. These can include onerous conditions that can affect a released individual’s ability to seek/maintain employment, put up barriers to normal life, and subject individuals to the possibility of revocation of their freedom and being placed back in the BOP for minor offenses or missed urinalysis appointments. The bill would require courts to conduct more individual assessments of the necessity of imposing supervision, as well as create an opportunity for individuals to petition for early termination of their release if they can demonstrate through good behavior that they are not a public safety threat. There is some question as to the necessity of the bill, as individuals are currently free to petition their sentencing court for early termination from supervised release after one year. Still, Jessica Jackson, chief advocacy officer at REFORM Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to probation, parole, and sentencing reform in the United States, says the bill, “aims to restore supervised release to its original intended purpose and support successful reentry—while also reducing wasteful spending and cutting needless bureaucracy, so that the system works better for everyone.”

Recently Commuted Advocate Details Issues Inherent in Current System

In a recent op-ed Alice Marie Johnson, a woman who had her prison sentence commuted by then-President Trump in 2018 after Kim Kardashian took up her cause, detailed that even after her release from the BOP she was subject to much oversight and restrictions because she was still subject to conditions of supervised release. She was almost not able to attend the State of the Union and other White House Press events she was invited to because she needed permission from her probation officer to attend/travel. She advocates that the Safer Supervision Act would break down many barriers to successful reintegration into society, reduce recidivism and improve public safety, as well as saving taxpayers approximately $500 million per year, by allowing rehabilitated individuals to ease the burdens of probation officers. Even without the bill’s passage, there remains avenues for individuals who have fulfilled some of their supervised release obligations to seek an early termination. Anyone seeking early termination of supervised release should contact an attorney experienced with the process who can see if such an avenue exists for them and petition the courts as appropriate.