Frequently Asked Questions about Returning to the Community
If you conclude your federal sentence at a federal prison, the Bureau of Prisons is required to provide you with transportation to the place of your conviction or your place of residence. Usually, the Bureau of Prisons will provide a Greyhound bus ticket to your home city. You will be permitted to take all of your personal property and will be provided a set of street clothes, or you may have street clothes sent to your facility within 30 days of your release. You will also be provided a 30-day supply of any prescribed medication.
If you spend the last portion of your sentence in a residential reentry center, or halfway house, you will be responsible for arranging transportation to your home when you are released from the halfway house. Your halfway house placement will usually be in Baltimore or Washington if you were convicted in Maryland, unless you have arranged in advance to return to a different community when you are released.
The Bureau of Prisons determines how much time you will spend at the halfway house at the end of your sentence. Between 17 and 19 months before your release date, the BOP will review your file and determine how much time, if any, you will spend in a halfway house. Factors they use include the nature and circumstances of your offense; your personal history and characteristics, including the length of time you have been away from the community and your conduct in prison; the number of available beds at the halfway house; any recommendations made by your sentencing judge; and any policies of the United States Sentencing Commission that are relevant to your case. You may spend up to twelve months in a halfway house, but we rarely see placements longer than six months.
Almost every federal offense carries with it a term of supervised release. Supervised release is like probation: a defendant must regularly report to the U.S. Probation Office and often must submit to drug testing and other conditions imposed by the Court.
If the judge gave you a term of supervised release to be completed after your prison sentence, you will be assigned a United States Probation officer who will supervise you during your term of supervised release. The conditions of supervised release are listed in the Judgment imposing your sentence.
If you complete your sentence at a halfway house, your probation officer will usually visit you within 30 days of your arrival at the halfway house. If you are released directly from a BOP institution, you must report to the United States Probation Office within 72 hours of your release and will meet your probation officer at that point. The U.S. Probation Office in Baltimore is located at 250 W. Pratt Street, Suite 400, Baltimore, MD 21201. The phone number is (410) 962-4740. The U.S. Probation Office in Greenbelt is located at 7855 Walker Drive, Suite 600, Greenbelt, MD 20770. The phone number is (301) 344-0510.
During your initial meeting with your probation officer, you will review information such as your residence, your plans for employment, any treatment services that the judge ordered, and your other responsibilities while on supervised release. Your probation officer will help to determine what challenges you may face when you return to the community and will explore resources for assistance. Before you are released from prison or sent to a halfway house, the U.S. Probation Office will conduct a home visit of the residence where you intend to live when you are released. It typically takes them about 30 days to complete that investigation.
We understand that these are probably the hardest questions and the most important ones you will have when you return to the community. There are many organizations all across Maryland that provide these types of services as well as services to help you with other legal problems you may have like child custody and divorce, bankruptcy, and landlord-tenant issues. We have a page on our website that lists contact information for many different categories of reentry resources by county in Maryland. Your probation officer can also refer you to agencies that will help you get these services.
If the judge ordered you to attend drug treatment, the probation office will usually set you up with an inpatient or outpatient program, depending on your personal circumstances. Some probation officers will allow you to find your own drug treatment program if there is an appropriate program closer to your home or with services that you prefer. If the judge did not order you to participate in drug treatment but you are interested in treatment, we have many programs included on our reentry resources page. If your Probation Officer finds a drug treatment program for you, Probation will usually pay for it. If you find your own drug treatment program, you will likely have to have your insurance pay for it or find other sources of funding. Some programs are fully funded by medical assistance (Medicaid) or other sources.
If you live in the Baltimore area, your probation officer can provide you a bus pass to allow you to attend mental health or substance abuse treatment or an approved job training program if you do not have access to other transportation.
If you want to transfer your supervision from Maryland to another district because you intend to return from prison to a community other than Maryland, you must tell your BOP Unit Team that you want to relocate to a district other than where you were sentenced. Your Case Manager will prepare a request for relocation, which will be sent to the U.S. Probation office in the district where you want to live. If you want to live somewhere else besides Maryland, it is important that you tell your BOP Case Manager as early as possible to make sure you will be sent to a halfway house in the right community. It is much easier to transfer supervision to a different district before you are sent to a halfway house than once you are there.
Once you are on supervised release, you usually need to have permission from your probation officer 10 days in advance of any change in your residence. If you wish to move out of Maryland, the probation office in the district where you hope to move will have to agree to supervise you, and that process can often take longer than 10 days. Unless you have an emergency, it’s best to give your probation officer in Maryland sixty days, if possible, if you want to move out of state. Your probation officer will tell you what specific information he or she needs to request the transfer.
You can request that the judge terminate your supervised release early if you have completed more than a year of supervision. If you wish to do that, you can contact the Federal Public Defender’s Office, which will determine if you are eligible for early termination and, if you are, will file a motion on your behalf. Usually, the probation office will recommend early termination if you have completed at least half of your supervised release and have had no violations.
If a probation officer believes an individual has violated his supervised release, the probation officer can petition the Court to issue either an arrest warrant or a summons for the individual. Those accused of violating supervised release are entitled to an initial appearance, at which they are notified of the alleged violations and can request appointment of counsel. The individual is also entitled to a detention hearing if the prosecutor is seeking the individual’s detention before the violation of supervised release hearing. The violation of supervised release hearing is usually held in front of the judge who placed the individual on supervised release unless the judge has retired.
A defendant has fewer rights at revocation of supervised release hearings than when an individual faces substantive federal charges. For example, at a revocation hearing, the individual is not entitled to a jury and the prosecutor only has to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the individual violated supervised release. While the individual retains the right to cross-examine any witnesses called by the prosecutor, and the defendant can call witnesses on his behalf, hearsay is admissible so often the prosecutor calls the probation officer as the sole witness.
Sometimes a probation officer will ask an individual to agree to additional conditions of supervised release not previously imposed by the judge. If an individual does not feel comfortable with the probation officer’s request to modify the conditions of supervised release, the individual should contact our office and speak with either his or her prior attorney or our duty attorney.
With the exception of misdemeanor drug possession offenses, valid federal convictions cannot be expunged.