What is the difference between supervised release and parole?

Supervised release and parole are similar in many ways. Supervised release and parole are both forms of post-incarceration supervision by the United States Probation Office. The rules and regulations governing supervised releasees and parolees are similar. Violations of either supervised release or parole can result in additional time in custody. Both supervised releasees and parolees are entitled to an attorney when charged with violating the terms of their release. There are, however, important differences between parole and supervised release.

Persons sentenced in federal court for conduct occurring before November 1, 1987 were sentenced under so-called “old law” or “pre-Guidelines” law and are subject to parole. Parole involves release from incarceration before the end of a sentence. Parole is a form of custody served in the community under the supervision of the Probation Office and under the jurisdiction of the United States Parole Commission. Parolees remain in the custody of the Attorney General while on parole. Violations of parole are handled by the Parole Commission. Parolees are not entitled to a hearing before a federal judge.

Supervised release is an additional term of supervision that must be completed after a person completes his or her term of federal custody. It applies to persons sentenced for offenses committed after November 1, 1987. Such persons are subject to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (also known as “new law” or “Guidelines” law) and are not entitled to release parole before the end of a sentence. Persons on supervised release are supervised by the Probation Office, and remain under the jurisdiction of the United States District Court. Violations of supervised release are handled by the District Court, and supervised releasees are entitled to a hearing before the District Court.