What is a Supervised Release?

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  • Written By: Brenda Scott
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 January 2020
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Supervised release is a sentencing option used by state, provincial or federal court systems. This type of sentence involves direct supervision of the offender, monitoring of prohibited and mandated behaviors, and other court-ordered provisions. In some countries and states or province, this type of release may be in the form of parole replacing a part of the original sentence, or it may be a second sentence which commences when the prison term has been served.

Under supervised release, a prisoner must report regularly to a parole officer and comply with various conditions, including prohibitions against committing any crimes, possessing a controlled substance, excessive drinking, and associating with convicted felons. In addition, periodic drug tests can be required, and the person is not allowed to leave the geographic area without court permission. Employment is a requirement of release, and any job or residence changes must be reported immediately to the supervising officer.

Additional requirements can be imposed depending upon the nature of the original conviction. If a person has served time for domestic violence or drug or alcohol related crimes, specific counseling can be mandated. Sex offenders are required to comply with the Sex Offender Registration Regulations, and may be banned from using the Internet for a period of time. Restrictions regarding associating with certain people may also be included. While supervised release is a separate sentence on the federal level, most states still use this approach as a form of parole.


In Canada, supervised release is reserved for parole. Canadian law requires that a prisoner be released from prison after serving two-thirds of his sentence if he is not deemed a danger to the community. At that point, the Corrections Service of Canada provides extensive supervision and restrictions which are designed to help the former inmate return to society without reverting to the criminal behavior that resulted in his arrest and confinement. Some of the conditions of release include maintaining gainful employment, curfews, restrictions on movements, prohibitions on drinking and limiting personal associations.

In the UK, a supervised release order (SRO) can be issued to a youth or adult offender who has one to four years to serve. If an SRO is issued, it is usually for a duration of one year, and is dependent upon good behavior. A supervising social worker is assigned, and the prisoner is required to report on a regular basis. He is also required to attend all applicable programs, remain employed, and comply with any other conditions.

Regardless of the jurisdiction, the purpose of supervised release is to ease the offender back into society in a manner that protects the public and decreases the chance of recidivism, or a return to prison. Compliance in a controlled facility can be much easier than in open society with all of the temptations and old associations available. If properly followed, the conditions of the release are designed to prepare the person for a successful reentry into society.


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Post 1

When I taught writing at a community college, I often had to sign papers for people who were on a supervised release. They would explain to me that the signed paper was proof that they had attended class. They had to go to school or get a job as part of their parole.

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