Post-release supervision is a lot more common than it used to be. There were about 2,000 on post-release supervision back in 2011 before the Justice Reinvestment Act added PRS for lower-level (Class F–I) felons. Today there are over 12,500 people on post-release supervision, and PRS revocations account for more entries to prison than probation revocations. Nevertheless, some aspects of PRS still seem unfamiliar. Today’s post takes a quick look at a frequently asked question related to what happens when a person is returned to prison for a violation of PRS. Continue reading
Tag Archives: PRS
Post-Release Revocation Terms
Sentence credits are the days of credit the prison system can award to inmates as an incentive for good behavior, work, or participation in programs in prison. The main sentence reduction credit for sentences imposed under Structured Sentencing is earned time. Earned time reduces an inmate’s maximum sentence, hastening his or her release from prison to post-release supervision. Can it also reduce the person’s term of post-release supervision? Continue reading →
Before 2011, post-release supervision (PRS) was a bit of a novelty. Back then, only Class B1–E felons received PRS, and they account for only 15 percent of all felons. For offenses committed on and after December 1, 2011, the Justice Reinvestment Act amended the law to require post-release supervision for all felons who serve active time, regardless of offense class. As a result, there are now close to 10,000 post-release supervisees in North Carolina. More offenders means more questions. And one of the most common questions is what role, if any, the courts have in the administration of post-release supervision. The answer: very little. Continue reading →
Surprise Post-Release Supervision
I get a lot of mail from inmates. Lately, many of them have written to express their surprise upon being told by prison officials—for the first time—that they will have to complete a term of post-release supervision when they get out of prison. Sex offenders—especially Class F–I sex offenders, including those convicted of indecent liberties—are very surprised to learn that they will be on PRS for five years. Is it a problem that nobody mentioned PRS earlier? Continue reading →
Post-release supervision used to be relatively rare. Before 2011, only Class B1–E felons received PRS, and they accounted for only about 15 percent of all felons. Now that Class F–I felons also get PRS, the number of people under supervision is surging. Some of them get into trouble. This post looks at some of the increasingly common questions that come up when a post-release supervisee is charged with and eventually convicted of a new crime. Continue reading →
Sentencing Whiteboard: A Typical Felony Probation Case after Justice Reinvestment
What happens when a low-level felon serves a split and then gets quick-dipped, dunked, and eventually revoked? Today’s video post walks through a case like that from start to finish, including many of the jail credit wrinkles that have emerged since 2011. Long story short: things have gotten complicated. I hope you’ll take a look.
Today’s post explains the “single sentence rule” of G.S. 15A-1354(b), the law that tells the prison system how to administer consecutive felony sentences. Knowing the rule is essential to figuring out the release date and post-release supervision term for a defendant who receives consecutive sentences.
The video is longer than I would generally like for these things to be, but it takes a little time to spell out the full rule. One thing it does not address is the related question of whether a judge should take the single sentence rule into account when advising a defendant of the maximum possible sentence for his or her convictions. Jessie discussed that issue here.
I recorded another whiteboard-style presentation on sentencing law. Today, the focus is on how active sentences for Class B1–E felonies play out in practice.
These days, you can find an online instructional video for pretty much anything. Cooking techniques, auto repair, differential calculus. Why not criminal sentencing? Today’s post is my first attempt at a microlecture on a discrete sentencing topic: Understanding how minimum and maximum sentences work for Class F–I felonies. You can view the video here. I’ll cover Class B1–E felonies in a subsequent installment, and maybe other topics, too, if you find this to be a helpful format. Let me know!
Update: I created a new version of this module using a program that allows me to export it to YouTube. Future modules will be posted on the same channel. You can view the revised video below.
More FAQ on PRS
Today’s post picks up where my last post left off, with answers (my answers, at least) to more frequently asked questions about post-release supervision.
What will life on PRS be like? It will be a lot like probation—which is something to keep in mind if the defendant requested an active sentence to avoid probation. The conditions of supervision will be set by the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, not by the court. Every supervisee will be subject to a condition that he or she not commit another crime. G.S. 15A-1368.4(b). The Commission may add other conditions it believes are “reasonably necessary to ensure that the supervisee will lead a law-abiding life or to assist the supervisee to do so.” G.S. 15A-1368.4(d) and (e) set out appropriate reintegrative and controlling conditions, respectively. They include things like having a job, completing treatment, not using drugs, paying court costs, and submitting to warrantless searches by a post-release supervision officer. (Unlike probation, for post-release supervision there is no statutory provision for warrantless searches by a law enforcement officer.) Special conditions apply to sex offenders. G.S. 15A-1368.4(b1).
For what types of violations can I be revoked? As described in this prior post summarizing the PRS violation hearing process, the Justice Reinvestment Act limited the Commission’s authority to revoke PRS in much the same way that it limited judges’ authority to revoke probation. PRS may be fully revoked only for a new criminal offense or absconding, or for any violation committed by a person under supervision for a reportable sex crime. G.S. 15A-1368.3(c)(1). For all other violations, the supervisee may be reimprisoned for three months, and then re-released onto PRS. (DAC and the Commission sometimes refer to those 3-month reimprisonment stints as “CRV,” though that statutory terminology applies only to imprisonment for technical violations of probation.) Reimprisonment tolls the term of supervised release. Id. For example, if a defendant violates PRS 10 months into a 12-month term of supervision and is reimprisoned for three months, he comes out of prison with 2 months remaining on the term of supervision. Time does not run on the supervision period while he is behind bars. However, once the defendant has served his entire maximum term of imprisonment, the sentence is considered terminated, G.S. 15A-1368.2(f), and there is no further release to supervision, G.S. 15A-1368.3(c)(1).
If my PRS is revoked, do I get credit against my remaining term of imprisonment for the time I spent under supervision? No. Unlike some other states, North Carolina does not allow credit for what is sometimes called “street time,” the time a person a person spent under supervision in the community. To the contrary, G.S. 15A-1368.3(c)(2) expressly provides that a supervisee “shall not receive any credit for days on post-release supervision against the maximum term of imprisonment imposed by the court . . . .” So, if you have a 9-month term of PRS with 9 months of imprisonment hanging over your head, and you violate and get revoked in month 8, you go back to prison for 9 months, not 1 month.
How does PRS work if I am serving multiple sentences? In general, a person convicted of multiple felony offenses will serve only one period of post-release supervision upon his or her release. If the sentences were set to run consecutively, one PRS term will remain at the end of the aggregate term by virtue of the single sentence rule, described in detail here. The length of that sole PRS term will be dictated by the longest term applicable to the defendant’s multiple convictions (9, 12, or 60 months, depending on the offense class and whether the defendant is a sex offender). Occasionally a defendant will be subject to concurrent sentences that include a mix of non-PRS (i.e., pre-2011) and PRS-eligible felonies, and for which the term of imprisonment for the non-PRS sentence actually extends beyond the PRS-eligible one(s). If that happens, DAC and the Commission will hold the PRS term for the PRS-eligible offense in abeyance until the defendant is actually released from prison on the non-PRS case. Once a person is on PRS, the PRS term generally runs concurrently with any other federal or State prison, jail, probation, or parole term to which the person becomes subject. G.S. 15A-1368.5.
What is the deal with PRS for drug trafficking crimes committed between December 1, 2011 and November 30, 2012? When the General Assembly amended the felony sentencing grid in 2011, increasing felony maximum sentences to account for the expansion of post-release supervision, it did not increase the statutory terms of imprisonment for drug trafficking set out in G.S. 90-95(h). The legislature fixed the problem for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2012, but when I wrote about the issue here in 2012, I was unsure how DAC and the Commission would treat cases falling in the gap year. I have since learned that if there is not a full complement of “extra” time built into the maximum sentence for PRS (9 extra months for Class F, G, and H trafficking, and 12 extra months for Class C, D, and E trafficking), then they will not give the defendant any post-release supervision at all. I have heard that some judges have addressed the issue by adding extra time to the maximum themselves, but I don’t know of any legal basis for doing that. The applicable statute for that time period prescribed a particular sentence, and I think that’s what the court is obliged to use, even if it makes administration of PRS difficult. I would be interested to hear from readers with practical experience with cases from this time frame to learn more about how things played out.