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Federal Court Involvement in Supervised Release

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Graduate School of Social Service alumnus Honorable Richard M. Berman, GSS ’96, recently wrote an article that asserts the importance of increased judicial involvement in meaningful supervised release throughout the successful reentry of supervisees.

The article, titled “Federal Court Involvement in Supervised Release,” appeared in The Regulatory Review—a publication of the University of Pennsylvania’s regulatory program. It discussed “supervised release,” which the U.S. Sentencing Commission defines as a “unique type of post-confinement monitoring that is overseen by federal district courts with the assistance of federal probation officers.”

Berman wrote that judges are not always actively involved in overseeing this supervision. Instead, they tend to get involved only after a supervisee has failed to comply with the terms of supervision.

“As a result,” Berman wrote, “judges may miss the opportunity meaningfully to assist with reentry and to help ensure that necessary services such as drug treatment, mental health counseling, and housing and employment assistance are provided.”

To counteract this lack of involvement, Berman and his chambers staff developed a “more active and involved approach to supervised release.”

“The practice features regular supervised release hearings intended to help ensure that supervisees succeed and avoid further negative involvement in the criminal justice system,” he wrote. “Importantly, this practice also includes early termination of supervised release for all those who have shown that they no longer need supervision.”

During the period January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2020, Berman and his chamber staff worked with 152 supervisees, and recently prepared a report describing the reentry outcomes.

The conclusion?

We have concluded that increased judicial involvement in supervised release meaningfully can help supervisees with successful reentry, as measured by such factors as fewer felony arrests and serious probation violations.

The article goes on to offer four findings from the study “for discussion and as directional guidance for those who may be interested.”

GSS professor Tina Maschi, Ph.D., is also quoted in the article speaking on the importance of supervised reentry, and how rewarding the process can be.

Professor Maschi said judicial involvement in supervised release “incorporates a much-needed holistic portrait of the perspectives of the supervisee, the parole or probation officer, and other associated professionals . . . to foster successful reintegration into society. It also has the serendipitous effect of reducing crime and recidivism.”

Read the whole article here.

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