RDAP Dan shares his experience and advice about early termination of supervised release
Recently, I was granted early termination of my post-prison supervised release. Our Success and Life Coach, Jenny Good, interviewed me about the process. I hope some of you find it helpful and maybe even inspiring.
Jenny: Is there a difference in the way federal prison probation and regular probation works?
Dan: There is a difference between being sentenced to probation and being let out of prison on supervised release. Supervised release is a condition that takes place in addition to your sentence, while probation is the sentence itself. So, a client might receive probation instead of a prison sentence. But clients serving prison time may be let out on supervised release.
Jenny: Did someone meet with you to go over all the rules before your release?
Dan: Yes. If you spend time in the federal halfway house, someone comes to meet with you there.
Jenny: What was the most difficult rule or requirement for you, while on supervised release?
Dan: Initially, it was the color line. Every morning, I called a number and a recording announced which color they called for that day. If they called my color, I had to give a UA by 7pm that evening. After about 90 days, my requirement to call the color line ended. Drug tests could still happen, but I no longer had to call the color line every day.
Jenny: What happened when you first got out of prison as far as probation? Did you have to report right away, in person or how did it work?
Dan: When I got out of halfway house, I met with my Probation Officer within 24 hours of my release.
Jenny: How often did you have to make contact with your probation officer, and did that change over time?
Dan: Generally, I reported monthly and gave information on my income, living situation and so forth. Eventually, I was allowed to email the monthly form to my PO instead of going in person to do that.
Jenny: How long were you originally set to be on supervised release?
Dan: 36 months
Jenny: Did you have any violations of your supervised release?
Jenny: Do employers know you are on probation or supervised release if applying for a job or an apartment?
Dan: There are situations where you might need to disclose it. Just be honest. Shelly (my girlfriend) was incarcerated around the same time as I was, in relation to the same case. She got out before me and she ran into problems trying to lease an apartment. Eventually, she found a felon-friendly apartment, so don’t give up if you find yourself in that situation.
Jenny: How does someone apply to be let off supervised release early?
Dan: File a motion. I filed the first motion for it when I had just completed 1 year on supervised release. My probation was out of Georgia at that time. They denied me almost immediately, but gave me no reason why. My PO got my supervised released transferred to Washington and I filed again. That time, I was successful.
Jenny: Do you need to wait until you’re within a certain time frame of being off supervised release before asking to be let off early?
Dan: They want you to have 1 year on supervised release before asking. Typically, you need 50% completed, but some districts won’t terminate early at all. The only way to really find out is to file a motion.
Jenny: Who decides if you are granted early termination from supervised release?
Dan: A judge decides, but the judge talks to your PO, so it’s kind of a joint effort. Having a transparent and good relationship with your PO is a key part of success with this.
Jenny: How long before you received an answer?
Dan: It was about 5 weeks after I filed the second motion when I heard back.
Jenny: How early was your SR terminated?
Dan: I served 1 ½ years of it, so I was able to walk away from supervised release 18 months early.
Jenny: How did you find out about the decision?
Dan: I checked Pacer but it wasn’t updated there. My PO called me and let me know.
Jenny: How did it feel to be off supervised release after all that time?
Dan: It felt like a pretty big deal. I think positive attitude and going the extra mile made it happen. It was a satisfying feeling to see the benefits of putting in the time and effort. My stress level went down because the microscope is off of me. For so long, I felt like I had to be super careful and like I was under a microscope at all times. Now, I can move forward from that.
Jenny: Do you have advice on do’s or don’ts for anyone wanting off probation early?
Dan: Don’t be too pushy. Don’t try to act like they owe it to you to take you off early. If you’re denied, put in more time and try again. Build the relationship with your Probation Officer. Prove you’re not like the other guys they deal with on a daily basis. Develop a track record of not messing up. Do community service and document it. Just staying out of trouble is not really enough. You’re supposed to stay out of trouble so don’t expect to be rewarded for that.
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If you’d like to talk about early termination from supervised release, or how to position yourself to beat the odds against you, give us a call today.