2005 Federal Sentencing Guidelines


Chapter 7 - PART A - INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER SEVEN

2. Background

(a) Probation.

Prior to the implementation of the federal sentencing guidelines, a court could stay the imposition or execution of sentence and place a defendant on probation. When a court found that a defendant violated a condition of probation, the court could continue probation, with or without extending the term or modifying the conditions, or revoke probation and either impose the term of imprisonment previously stayed, or, where no term of imprisonment had originally been imposed, impose any term of imprisonment that was available at the initial sentencing.

The statutory authority to "suspend" the imposition or execution of sentence in order to impose a term of probation was abolished upon implementation of the sentencing guidelines. Instead, the Sentencing Reform Act recognized probation as a sentence in itself. 18 U.S.C. § 3561. Under current law, if the court finds that a defendant violated a condition of probation, the court may continue probation, with or without extending the term or modifying the conditions, or revoke probation and impose any other sentence that initially could have been imposed. 18 U.S.C. § 3565. For certain violations, revocation is required by statute.

(b) Supervised Release.

Supervised release, a new form of post-imprisonment supervision created by the Sentencing Reform Act, accompanied implementation of the guidelines. A term of supervised release may be imposed by the court as a part of the sentence of imprisonment at the time of initial sentencing. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(a). Unlike parole, a term of supervised release does not replace a portion of the sentence of imprisonment, but rather is an order of supervision in addition to any term of imprisonment imposed by the court. Accordingly, supervised release is more analogous to the additional "special parole term" previously authorized for certain drug offenses.

With the exception of residency in, or participation in the program of, a community corrections facility,* which is available only for a sentence of probation, the conditions of supervised release authorized by statute are the same as those for a sentence of probation. When the court finds that the defendant violated a condition of supervised release, it may continue the defendant on supervised release, with or without extending the term or modifying the conditions, or revoke supervised release and impose a term of imprisonment. The periods of imprisonment authorized by statute for a violation of the conditions of supervised release generally are more limited, however, than those available for a violation of the conditions of probation. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3).

*Note: Section 3583(d) of title 18, United States Code, provides that "[t]he court may order, as a further condition of supervised release...any condition set forth as a discretionary condition of probation in section 3563(b)(1) through (b)(10) and (b)(12) through (b)(20), and any other condition it considers to be appropriate." Subsection (b)(11) of section 3563 of title 18, United States Code, is explicitly excluded as a condition of supervised release. Before the enactment of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the condition at 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(11) was intermittent confinement. The Act deleted 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(2), authorizing the payment of a fine as a condition of probation, and redesignated the remaining conditions of probation set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b); intermittent confinement is now set forth at subsection (b)(10), whereas subsection (b)(11) sets forth the condition of residency at a community corrections facility. It would appear that intermittent confinement now is authorized as a condition of supervised release and that community confinement now is not authorized as a condition of supervised release.

However, there is some question as to whether Congress intended this result. Although the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 redesignated the remaining paragraphs of section 3563(b), it failed to make the corresponding redesignations in 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d), regarding discretionary conditions of supervised release.