Most federal sentences include some term of either probation or supervised release. The main difference between probation and supervised release is that probation is served instead of a prison sentence, while supervised release is served after release from a prison sentence. For both supervised release and probation, the client will be supervised by a probation officer.
The probation officer’s job is twofold: (1) to assist clients in the transition from prison to the community and (2) to make sure that the client follows all of the conditions which have been set by the judge. It is extremely important for clients to establish a good relationship with the assigned federal probation officer. The probation officer can be a good resource for programs involving education and vocational training. In some cases, a probation officer can also assist with issues related to substance abuse treatment and psychological counseling.