The 7th Circuit on Federal Supervised Release
A few years ago, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals published an opinion clearly showing their views on the imposition and purpose of federal supervised release.
That circuit is back at it again with an opinion in three enjoined cases, each challenging their supervised release conditions. (U.S. vs. Kappes, U.S. vs. Crisp, and U.S. vs. Jurgens; Nos. 14-1223, 14-2135, & 14-2482 respectively and decided April 8, 2015.) Hat tip to the Federal Criminal Appeals Blog for the head’s-up on this one.
There are some critical points made by this opinion that anybody interested in the operation of federal supervised release should be aware of. If you are on federal supervised release, or interested in the subject at all, the entire ruling is a must read.
The Purpose of Supervised Release
To start off with, the Circuit posted a history and usage overview of supervised release. The most interesting part of this section of the order is below:
“The purposes of supervised release have been variously described as rehabilitation, deterrence, training and treatment, protection of the public, and reduction of recidivism.” (United States v. Johnson, 529 U.S. 53, 59-60 (2000); United States v. Siegel, 753 F.3d 705, 708 (7th Cir. 2014); United States v. Evans, 727 F.3d 730, 733 (7th Cir. 2013))(Citations omitted and footnoted)
The real meat of this point is clarified a little later.
“Supervised release was not intended to be imposed for the purposes of punishment or incapacitation, since those purposes will have been served to the extent necessary by the term of imprisonment.”
(S. Rep. No.98-225, at 125; see also Johnson, 529 U.S. 59 (“Supervised release fulfills rehabilitative ends, distinct from those served by incarceration.”))…see also 18 U.S.C. § 3583(c) (directing a court contemplating the imposition of supervised release to consider most sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), except the need for the sentence to provide just punishment for the offense). The Supreme Court has described supervised release as “the decompression stage” between prison and full release.” (Johnson v. United States, 529 U.S. 694, 709 (2000).) (Citations omitted and footnoted))
What this says is simple: the goal of federal supervised release is not punitive , since that is the point of incarceration. The factors courts must consider when contemplating a term of federal supervised release are almost the same as the factors they consider when imposing a term of incarceration. The only difference is that court’s cannot consider the need for supervised release to provide just punishment for the offense.
The Meaning Behind the Purpose
Lets look at this from the perspective of somebody who wants to gain early release from federal supervised release. If, 1) the purpose of supervised release is not to inflict more punishment for the originating crime; and 2) the “decompression state” between prison and full release is accomplished, then 3) there is no reason to keep a defendant on supervision any longer.
The trick is proving that this decompression stage is over. From lots of prior 7th Circuit decisions, we have these factors that mark this decompression and satisfy that requirement. From the first quoted section, these five purposes of supervision are:
- Rehabilitation: have you completed all treatment and aftercare?
- Deterrence: are you effectively deterred from committing future federal crimes?
- Training and Treatment: do you have enough treatment and education to stay clean from crime and to keep stable employment? Stability of home and job is a key indicator to judges that you pose a low risk to commit new crimes. Sometimes it just matters how busy you are. Job? Kids? Wife/Husband? All these keep a person busy, and no idle time means no time to devote to criminal behavior. “Idle hands are the Devils’ playground” and all…
- Protection of the public: Again, this lends to treatment, stability, and reduced risk of committing new crimes.
- Reduction of recidivism: At this point it gets redundant, but explicit. What is your quantifiable risk to commit new crimes. If you have zero criminal history, this part is easy!
That’s All For Now
To learn more about this process, visit PCR Consultants or call us at (480) 382-9287 for a free consultation.
The PCR Consultants Team
Federal Supervised Release