WHAT IS IT The U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services System is a part of the federal judiciary. The sytem's mission is to investigate and supervise defendants and offenders. U.S. Probation and Pretrial services officers provide these services. Their core responsibilities-investigation, report preparation, and supervision are explained briefly below. INVESTIGATION Officers investigate defendants and offenders for the court by gathering and verifying information about them. Pretrial services officers investigate defendants who are charged with federal crimes and awaiting sentencing, as well as those who are serving a term of supervision after release from prison. REPORT PREPARATION Officers prepare reports that the court relies on in making decisions. These are pretrial services reports that help the court decide whether to release or detain defendants while they are waiting for trial and presentence investigation reports that help the court impose fair sentences for offenders in accordance with the federal guidelines and applicable federal law. Officers also prepare other reports for the court, including reports that address individual's adjustment to supervision and their compliance with conditions of release. SUPERVISION Officers supervise defendants and offenders in the community and in doing so reduce the risk these persons pose to the public. Pretrial services officers supervise defendants released pending trial. Probation officers supervise offenders conditionally released on probation by the court or on parole or supervised release after they are released from prison. Officers intervene with a variety of strategies aimed at maximizing defendant and offender success during the period of supervision. These strategies include techniques both to control and to correct the behavior of persons under supervision to help ensure that these individuals comply with the condition of release the court has set for them and remain law-abiding. As part of risk control and by order of the court, officers may direct defendants and offenders to services that help them stay on the right side of the law. These services include substance abuse or mental health treatment, medical care, training, or employment assistance. Treatment providers under contract to the U.S. Courts provide many of these services. Social services resources provided by state programs also are used. HISTORY Congress laid the foundation for probation first. The Federal Probation Act of 1925 established a probation system in the U.S. Courts and gave courts the power to appoint probation officers and to place defendants on probation. The Administrative Office o the U.S. Courts assumed responsibility for the probation system in 1940.
Office of Probation and Pretrial Services Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts January 2003