The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 created an alternative to parole and probation for federal offenders—supervised release—which occurs after an offender's term of imprisonment is completed. Following his or her release, an offender is sentenced to a period of supervision in the community. The Sentencing Reform Act calls for supervised release to follow any term of imprisonment that exceeds one year or if required by a specific statute. The court also may order supervised release to follow imprisonment in any other case. Offenders on supervised release are supervised by probation officers. During 2002, according to data from the BJS, some 70% (73,229) of federal offenders on community supervision were serving a term of
supervised release. (See Table 8.10.) Most offenders sentenced to supervised release (54%) were convicted of trafficking in drugs. Only 6.2% had been convicted of violent offenses.
Table 8.11 shows that in 2002 there were 27,678 offenders who terminated their supervised release. Most (62.2%) had not violated the terms of their release and successfully completed their sentence. A little over 13% had violated their supervised release by committing a new crime; 8.4% had used drugs. Men were more likely to violate the terms of their supervised release than were women. Nearly 60% of men successfully completed their sentence; women were successful 73.6% of the time. (See Table 8.12.) Of those sentenced to supervised release, the youngest (nineteen and twenty year olds) and the least educated (less than high school) had the highest percentages of those who violated the terms of their sentence.