The Presentence Report
Your last chance to make a good impression is at the Sentencing Hearing – before the Sentencing Judge
The problem with the Presentence Report (PSR).
The PSR and Presentence Interview (PSI) are formally completed by probation officers, but it’s up to the legal team and defendant to gather all of the required documents (paper, etc.) both medical and non-medical, for use by the probation/parole officers. It’s then the probation/parole officer’s job to interpret and enter these records into the official courts PSR, and at times pass on sentencing and/or prison placement recommendations to the court.
During a 2015 meeting I had with a local federal public defender mitigation specialist, he revealed the BOP’s less than optimal inmate placement history regarding a specific client’s mental healthcare needs. The medical portion of the PSR does not follow either the paper format that has been used in the past or the current electronic medical record (EMR) format model that is used by most healthcare providers today. This in turn may lead to the inaccurate intake of the defendants medical records, resulting in an inaccurate facility placement.
While the PSR has a medical, familial, financial, past education, past work and criminal history sections, there is no embedded pathway that allows the defendant’s legal team to make a qualified prison facility placement recommendation request within the current PSR format. Why would this be benificial; because this could save the costs, however rare of medical or non-medical transfers made at a later date under duress.
Further, there is no pathway within the PSR to match the defendant with a facility that supports an interest the defendant may have in either college or learning a specific occupational trade. All in an attempt to positively change their and their families future, while ensuring a successful reentry back into their communities, reducing the recidivism paradigm.
The Sentencing Hearing
An Opportunity to Make A Prison Placement Recommendation Request For Your Client
At times a missed opportunity.
- The sentencing process regarding prison placement recommendations is not currently part of most law school curriculum’s as they generally do not teach; in detail federal sentencing. This includes the details involved in a defendants prison placement along with how their Medical and Mental Healthcare is delivered: that being through the BOP’s CARE LEVEL I-IV structure.
- As a result there are attorneys who are able to navigate the specific details of the BOP’s placement process’s, providing qualified placement recommendations for their clients to the court.
- At the same time there are those who leave it to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to make these placement decisions, that are assumed accurate, without oversight. The result is that later there may be subsequent transfers being requested, due to erroneous initial placements, however rare. Ultimately it is cheaper, medically prudent and more timely to provide these placements accurately the first time.
- This holds true in Alan Ellis’s article: ‘What Federal Judges Want To Know At Sentencing’, published in the September 2017 issue of The Federal Lawyer: “It’s surprising how many otherwise competent attorneys ‘punt’ at the sentencing hearing,”Judge Schiltz.
- Federal Judges; while allowed to make prison facility placement recommendations to the BOP, some for their own reasons are not willing to do so.
Reentry preparation starts before placement
Addressing the Recidivism Paradigm.
Reentry is a sub-specialty that discusses how inmates are prepared to be released back into their communities. Why not start preparing for reentry before sentencing by supporting those defendants who wish change; and to create a positive future for themselves and their family? How? By matching them with a facility that supports an interest they may have in either higher education, or in learning an occupational trade; will in the long run reduce recidivism by better preparing these individuals for successfully reentering their communities.
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