About Pretrial Services Supervision
In the federal court system, along with investigations, supervision is a core responsibility of United States Pretrial Services Officers.
Pretrial supervision is a way to monitor the activities and behavior of people released on bond.
Bond is an alternative to jail for those people charged with federal crimes. Often when one is released on a bond they are ordered to undergo pretrial supervision. Release on a bond provides an opportunity for individuals to live with their families, hold jobs, and be productive members of society.
Through supervision, Pretrial Services Officers will enforce the Court’s order. Officers make sure people on pretrial supervision comply with the bond conditions the court has set for their release to the community.
Through supervision, officers aid in protecting the community. Pretrial Services Officers reduce the risk that people on supervision commit crimes. They also reduce the risk that people who are awaiting trial flee rather than return to court as required.
Through supervision, Pretrial Services Officers provide treatment and assistance. Officers help people on bond correct problems that may be linked to criminal behavior by directing them to services to help them. These services may include substance abuse or mental health treatment, medical care, training, or employment assistance.
In working with people on pretrial supervision, Pretrial Services Officers inform them of what the court expects of them. Officers conduct home and work visits to those released on bond supervision. Officers monitor their compliance with the conditions the court has set for their release. Officers will also step in to control and correct if the person on bond does not comply.
Bond conditions are rules set by the court that people on supervision must follow if they want to remain in the community. The court imposes bond conditions to help structure the person’s actions and activities to address any risk of non-appearance or danger.
For example, bond conditions may include:
- Prohibit possession of guns or other weapons.
- Prohibit contact with victims or witnesses.
- Restrict association with certain persons.
- Travel or curfew restrictions.
Among the many other bond conditions the court may impose are:
- Employment is a condition of bond that requires people to work at a lawful occupation unless excused for school, training, or other acceptable reasons.
The court uses an employment condition to make it more likely that people will succeed in supervision because they are gainfully employed.
Additionally, employment makes it less likely for a person to resort to crime to support themselves.
The Pretrial Services Officer will build relationships with agencies and individuals in the community who can help people on supervision find and keep jobs, including non-profit organizations, local and state employment services, chamber of commerce, and employers.
The Pretrial Services Officer will direct people on supervision to community resources that prepare them for employment through such services as skills assessment, job training, and workshops that address resume preparation and job searches.
The Pretrial Services Officer will follow up on a defendant’s job-seeking efforts and verify they are working by visiting them at their workplace, reviewing paycheck stubs, and keeping in touch with their employers.
The Pretrial Services Officer will take steps to control and correct the situation if people on supervision fail to report to work on time or at all, lose jobs or change jobs frequently, maintain a lifestyle beyond their income, or otherwise fail to comply with their conditions of bond.
If a person on bond supervision is not working they may consider volunteer opportunities. Pretrial Services Officers will assist defendants who are interested in volunteer opportunities by providing information regarding civic or nonprofit organizations. Community service can instill a work ethic and help people on supervision develop interests and skills
- Home Confinement is a bond condition that requires people to be confined to their homes and tracked in the community. The person is linked to a monitoring system through an ankle or wrist transmitter or a tracking device worn or carried 24 hours a day. With home confinement, the court determines the extent to which people are restricted case by case, requiring some individuals to remain on 24-hour-a-day lockdown at home and allowing others to leave for preapproved and scheduled absences, such as work, school, medical or mental health treatment, church, attorney appointments, court appearances, or other court-ordered obligations.
The court uses home confinement as a way to restrict people on supervision and protect the public from any threat they may pose. Home confinement is used as an alternative to detention in pretrial cases, to enhance community safety. The court may use home confinement as a sanction when people violate the conditions of their bond supervision.
The Pretrial Services Officer screen people to determine if they are eligible for home confinement. The officer will check to make sure the person on home confinement is adhering to their approved schedule. The officer will conduct home visits to check monitoring equipment to make sure it’s working and to look for signs of tampering.
The Pretrial Services Officer will respond to any alerts that may indicate a problem, including any unauthorized absences from the home, failure to return home after an unauthorized absence, leaving home early or returning home late, or entering into or near an unauthorized area.
The Pretrial Services Officer will take steps to control and correct the situation if people on home confinement don’t adhere to their approved leave schedule, go to an unapproved location, tamper with equipment, or otherwise fail to comply with their release conditions.
The Pretrial Services Officer will monitor the individual on home confinement through frequent phone calls to make sure people are adhering to their approved schedules; conduct frequent unannounced face-to-face visits; and respond to alerts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Substance Abuse Treatment is a condition of a bond that includes alcohol, drug testing, counseling, and detoxification.
The court relies on the Pretrial Services Officer to monitor the use of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol by people on bond supervision.
The Pretrial Services Officer will screen for substance abuse concerns through reviewing information in case files, interviewing the individual and their family, by observing behavior, and through court-ordered drug testing.
The Pretrial Services Officer will refer the individual to treatment programs that provide appropriate services. The officer will arrange for surprise collection of drug screens through urine samples and breath tests. Through home and office visits the Pretrial Services Officer will look for any signs of drug or alcohol use by observation.
The Pretrial Services Officer will take steps to control and correct the situation if people on bond supervision submit positive drug screens, fail to adhere to drug testing or fail to follow up or attend treatment-related activities.
The impact of substance abuse can be devastating. Dependence on alcohol or other drugs adversely affects the physical, mental, emotional, or social well-being of people on supervision.
There is a direct relationship between substance abuse and crime. In the interest of community safety, it is important that officers detect substance abuse and intervene quickly.
For the person with a history of alcohol and drug abuse problems, supervision may motivate them to abstain from further substance use. Supervision may provide information to teach individuals coping skills without relying on the use of substances. Supervision may reduce the risk the person will commit a further crime in order to support their drug use.
- Mental Health Treatment as a bond condition may require a person to include such services as psychological/psychiatric evaluations; individual, family, or group counseling; and medication.
The Pretrial Services Officer monitors people on supervision who suffer from mental health concerns, which may range from anxiety and depression to more chronic disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or pedophilia.
The Pretrial Services Officer will identify mental health problems through reviewing information in case files, interviewing people and their families, and by consulting with mental health professionals.
The Pretrial Services Officer through court order will refer people to mental health programs that provide appropriate services.
The Pretrial Services Officer will look for any signs of danger, such as suicide threats, indications the person is not taking prescribed medication, or indications the person is withdrawing from everyday life. The officer will take steps to control and correct the situation by referring the person for services and following up with the individual and their support system, and continued contact with mental health professionals. For people with mental health concerns, bond supervision may provide stabilization so they do not present a danger to themselves or others. Supervision will enable the person to function better in the community.