I suppose I trust her judgment about supervision matters so much because she has been there and done that. From a juvenile parole officer in the state system, to a federal pretrial services officer in our court and now a federal probation officer who does supervision here in the District of Nebraska this former collegiate volleyball player has the trust of the cops she works with, most of the offenders and all the judges. Her name is Jen.

Jen, United States Probation Officer  (July 29, 2014). She is wearing a paper badge for a blood drive that she helped coordinate. The feds have gotten cheap, but Jen's official credentials are not yet made of paper.

Jen, United States Probation Officer (July 29, 2014). She is wearing a paper badge for a blood drive that she helped coordinate. The feds have gotten cheap, but Jen’s official credentials are not yet made of paper.

One of the things I particularly admire about Jen is that she is tough but with no bluster. She does not think carrying a gun is cool. After 12 years of service as federal officer, she is a member of our District’s search team. That is not a job for the faint hearted. Going into a house, with a firearm at your side, with narcotics cops from the Tri-City Task Force (Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney), seeking to execute a warrant for a convicted meth freak who is tweaking and dealing again despite being on supervised release is dangerous business.

But what I admire most about Jen, and what I believe is representative of most of our probation officers who do supervision, is that she truly wants offenders to succeed. She busts her guts trying to see that they do. As evidence, reproduced below are two e-mails I got from Jen.

While I will redact the name of the offender, you need to know that I would not have bet a nickel that the offender would have succeeded on supervised release. Sentenced to 60 months in prison for selling meth to a CI, she cooperated and I later cut her sentence to 30 months plus five years of supervised release pursuant to a Rule 35(b) motion. To give you some flavor for this offender, consider this: At the time I sentenced this woman she desperately needed a dentist, all her siblings were doing time, and she had three convictions for assault by mutual consent (that is, three fist fights, I’m guessing in a bar).

Here is Jen’s first e-mail to me:


Attached to this email is a letter written by [the offender] requesting early termination. In this letter, she outlines the basics of her success and compliance. This information is true and informative. Please review the well written letter for details.

[The offender] was released from the BOP [on a date certain] with her supervision expiring on [a date certain]. To date, she has nearly completed 4 out of the 5 years of supervision without any violations to note. What is even more impressive, is what she has done in the community to ensure she will always have support available. [The offender] has not only made her own map of success, she drew it out with little direction from the US Probation Office. There is no doubt that she will stay in contact with the support systems in her community, and when and if, additional support is needed, she will seek it out. [The offender] has rebuilt positive relationships with her family members. [The offender] and her mother work together as a unique unit to co-parent and support one another.

I was lucky enough to be invited by [the offender] to [a non-profit employer’s] Annual Banquet to see her be awarded the Perseverance Award. [The offender] was so proud, and her mother was equally proud. I would relate it to the type of emotion someone has when they achieve a high school diploma or college degree.

Here is a note from the [non-profit employer], summarizing her success:

[The offender] has faced overwhelming challenges in her life to develop a sense of security, stability, and wellness that has brought her family back together over the last year. She has a hopeful and positive attitude while attending groups at . . . and facilitating support groups. She finds joy in each day as she tackles obstacles towards a hopeful future.

With the above being said, [the offender] has made a successful re-entry. Her criminal thinking appears to be nearly non-existent. The risk to the community is very low, and I would concur that she is “more than ready to be released from probation.” At the least, [the offender] has received the maximum benefit of supervision. I have also discussed this case with [the AUSA] who has no objection to early release.

In the event you feel early termination is appropriate, I have attached the Prob. 35. Thank you in advance.

I was behind answering my e-mails. So, after work, I fired up the government’s laptop that I keep at home, did my due diligence and ordered early termination. The e-mail transmission that night to the Clerk’s office for filing the next day also included Jen as an addressee. This is what I got in return at about 10:00 PM that evening: “Judge, I know your busy but just had to say thank you!! I cannot wait to share this info with [the offender]!”

I need not write anymore.



4 responses

  1. Judge–

    Thanks for these introductions to folks who work in various court-related services. They are a nice reminder that there are a lot of folks who truly are dedicated to their work and eager to do it well. I practice within the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and it, too, has some terrific people supporting the court.


  2. Judge:
    I know it’s stating the obvious but as I have said before (and will very likely say again): our profession is about people. Just look at the various individuals captured in this one blog entry. First, the drug defendant that pleasantly surprises everyone with the way that she has turned a corner towards a new life. Next, the overworked and underpaid probation officer who constantly puts her career on the line to see that justice is done. Finally, the federal judge who takes time out of his very busy day to write about it all. The aforementioned, in their own way, help to make ours the greatest profession in the world. Of this I am convinced.

  3. Robert,

    Thank you for your nice comment. I too have a very high regard for our profession. For one thing, we are frequently the only organ of government where sane and civil discourse remains the order of the day rather than the exception. All the best.


  4. DRF,

    You make an excellent point, and one I should have made. The District of Nebraska is not atypical when it comes to having employees dedicated to their work and eager to do it well. I am sure, too, that you are right that the Middle District of Pennsylvania enjoys the assistance of great employees.

    Thank you for making the point I should have made. All the best.


%d bloggers like this: