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PASS Court

Program Overview and Description

The goal of the PASS (Proactive Approach for Successful Supervision) Court Program is to identify the highest risk offenders early, and to give them a voluntary opportunity to work directly, and frequently with the Federal Judge and other Court staff and service providers over a longer period of time, with more intense oversight and requirements to reduce the chance of re-arrest or revocation.   Below you will find more program information about the program expectations and structure, eligibility and enrollment, orientation, PASS Session Hearings, and completion and graduation.

Offenders in the highest risk categories have an almost fifty percent recidivism rate. Our PASS Court Program is designed to increase the opportunity for success by significantly addressing the factors most related to the increasing the likelihood of you reoffending or violating supervision terms leading to new convictions and/or revocation of supervision.

Those factors include: (1) history of anti-social behavior; (2) anti-social personality; (3) anti-social values and attitudes; (4) criminal/deviant peer associations; (5) substance abuse; and (6) dysfunctional family relationships.

The program goals are intended to help participants improve in problem areas like:  (a) substance abuse; (b) criminal thinking; (c) family relationships; and (d) peer associations.   Many of the intervention within the PASS Court Program will assist those participating in the areas of substance abuse and mental health treatment, cognitive reasoning and skills training, education and literacy training, and employment and job skills training in order to help them improve in these areas leading to a more law-abiding, self-sufficient, and productive lifestyle.

Program Expectations and Structure

The program expects success from our participants and does not immediately expel a participant because of minor violations.

The participant will be expected to:

1. Adhere to the standard, special, and additional conditions of supervision;

2. Stay free of drugs and alcohol and submit urine specimens as instructed;

3. Stay in contact with your probation officer;

4. Attend all bimonthly hearings with the PASS program judge and be open and honest about your behavior;

5. Stay in contact with your appointed attorney and let the attorney know when you are having trouble with the program;

6. Complete an additional twelve months of supervision without violation;

7. Be employed full-time, enrolled in school full-time, or productively involved with your community in some other way;

8. Have a stable residence and finances at the time of graduation; and

9. Maintain a positive attitude about yourself and your ability to succeed.

As with any supervision case, recommended sanctions (“interventions”) for violations will hopefully help the participant remain in the community whenever possible. Many participants in this high-risk category have failed at many programs and have low expectations of themselves. This program is designed to continue to expect success and provide resources for success, no matter how many attempts are to be made. The community is served only when a change in behavior is achieved. Once a change in behavior has been exhibited over a twenty-four-month period, there is reason to believe the change is well integrated and supported. If relationships established with family and other community members have been solidified, then further supervision is no longer warranted and termination of supervision is encouraged.

Eligibility and Enrollment

Participant criteria include:  (1) sufficiently high risk score/factors, (2) sentenced in the Northern District of Texas; Dallas Division and; (3) released to either ND/TX-Arlington, Dallas, Westmoreland Park or Dallas Mobile Office Division area of supervision.

Along with the above criteria, each potential participant will be assessed by a PASS team member and supervising probation officer for eligibility. Also, the sentencing district judge (or newly assigned district judge if the sentencing judge is no longer active) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office must approve each participant.  The probation officer will request that each participant complete a financial affidavit for appointment of counsel, which will also be forwarded to the PASS program judge. Appointment of an attorney in the Federal Public Defender’s Office will be made prior to or at the participant’s initial PASS program hearing.


The probation officer, during prerelease planning, will attempt to meet with the potential identified participant at the halfway house prior to release. The participant will be informed of the program and its benefits to his/her re-entry. A copy of a program consent form will be presented to the participant for review. At the initial hearing, the participant will be introduced to the PASS program team, and the consent form will be reviewed by all. Each participant will be advised that the PASS program is designed to give the participant an increased opportunity for success on supervised release.

The consent form will explicitly state the conditions of supervision, the expectations of the program, the possible interventions and rewards. Completion of the program (twelve months of satisfactory court participation), will result in a removal to regular supervision. After an additional twelve months of satisfactory performance on supervision, early termination of supervision will be recommended to the sentencing judge. It is expected that, through this program, these participants will have achieved profitable full-time employment, compliance with conditions, abstinence and sobriety, and positive connections with community and family over a twenty-four-month period (all indicators of successful re-entry). The amount of supervised release that a successful participant will not have to serve will vary depending upon the term of supervised release originally imposed.

PASS Session Hearings

The PASS Program hearings will be held in the Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse in Dallas, Texas. The participant's family, employers, mentors, and other support persons will be encouraged to attend.  The participants will initially attend hearings twice monthly. Once a participant successfully completes six months of the program, the participant’s attendance will be reduced to one hearing per month.

Structure of the hearing:

(1) Court security officer’s announcement of the PASS program judge and opening statements.

(2) Orientation of any new participant and review of consent form.

(3) Review of the status of each participant, including remarks by all team members and any employer, family member, or significant other present. Provision of rewards by judge for those making satisfactory progress. Imposition of violations by judge upon the admission, or finding of a violation (after each team member gives a recommendation).

(4) Closing remarks by the PASS program judge.

Post hearing:

Following each court session, special service providers may be asked to present information and /or materials to assist participants with specific needs. These providers/speakers will be available at a location within the courthouse at a location to be announced at each hearing.

Your attorney may appear at every hearing:   As long as you are making progress, your appointed attorney and an attorney from the U.S. Attorney’s Office need not attend your monthly hearings with the judge and probation officer; however, your attorney may attend a hearing whenever you and/or the attorney deem it necessary. If the probation officer believes that you are not complying with the program and suggests that you be subjected to an intervention, the judge will schedule a hearing with you, your appointed attorney, the probation officer and an attorney from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Your appointed attorney must be present at a hearing if you will be subjected to an intervention. Also, you may call your appointed attorney whenever you have legal questions and/or questions about your rights.

Hearings may be recorded:  If you are going to be subjected to an intervention, hearings may be recorded.  The hearings may be conducted in open court.  You may request that relatives, friends, or the general public be present at any hearing.

Right to Withdraw:  You may withdraw from the PASS program at any time for any reason. If you withdraw, you will be returned to traditional supervision and will forfeit the opportunity for early termination through the PASS program.

Program Completion and Graduations

Upon accumulation of twelve monthly rewards, a graduation ceremony will be held at the monthly progress hearing. A certificate of completion will be awarded by the PASS program Judge. Thereafter, the participant will be transferred to a regular supervision caseload for an additional twelve months of supervision. A violation that occurs during this twelve months of regular supervision will normally cause the participant to forfeit the opportunity for early termination of supervised release. Exceptions to this may only be made with the concurrence of the sentencing judge. After successful completion of the second twelve months of regular supervision, an early termination recommendation will be presented to the sentencing judge.