How Supervision Works

The Minnesota Department of Corrections supervises two types of offenders: 

  1. Felony offenders who have served the mandatory two thirds of their prison sentence who have been released from prison and…
  2. Probationers who were not committed to the custody of the Commissioner of Corrections but reside in counties that do not find it practical to operate a local supervision program.

Felony Offenders:

In the 1980’s the State of Minnesota instituted a series of reforms to the state’s correctional system.  One of the biggest reforms was Determinat Sentencing.  Under this system there is no parole board and no time off for good behavior.  Offenders serve two-thirds of their prison sentence behind bars and the remaining third on supervised release.  As the offender’s release date draws near, he or she will begin working with their case

manager on a release plan. 

To be successful outside of prison the offender will need to have housing and employment.  Release planning will also challenge the offender to develop a support network of people he or she can rely on for assistance as well as access to programming like ongoing chemical dependency treatment.

Every offender on supervision is assessed to determine the level of risk he or she poses to the community and conditions for supervision are set.  These conditions can include requirements like maintaining an approved residence, submitting to regular drug and alcohol tests, restrictions against accessing the Internet and in some cases electronic monitoring. The supervising agent will follow up with the offender in the community to ensure that all of the


conditions of release are being met. 

If an offender violates the terms of his or her release, a warrant will be issued and the offender will be placed back into custody and their case will be reviewed to determine how severe the violation was and what action should be taken as a result.

For very minor technical violations the offender will have his or her release conditions restructured before being released back into the community to continue on supervision.

However, more severe violations will require the offender to be brought back to prison, probationers may have their probation revoked and be compelled to serve the jail term that was imposed at the time of their sentencing.  In those cases, DOC staff attempts to work with the offender to find out why they were not able to follow their release conditions. In some cases, additional programming such as chemical dependency treatment is mandated before another attempt to release the offender is made.

The DOC has the legal authority to bring offenders under supervision back to prison as long as the court-imposed sentence is in effect. The DOC does not have the authority to hold an offender beyond the expiration of their sentence.


In addition to supervising offenders who have been released from prison, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) also provides supervision for people who were sentenced to probation in their communities instead of prison.  This service is provided to counties who do not have a large enough caseload of probationers to justify the expense of operating a local supervision program.

The risk probationers pose to the community is also assessed and conditions appropriate to that risk are imposed.  If a probationer violates their conditions the case is referred back to the sentencing judge for review.