The Presentence Report
Your last chance to make a good impression is at the Sentencing Hearing – before the Sentencing Judge
Challenges with the Presentence Report (PSR).
The PSR and Presentence Interview (PSI) are formally completed by probation officers, but it’s beneficial for the legal team and defendant to, proactively gather all of the required documents (medical and non-medical) for use by the probation/parole officers. It’s then the probation/parole officer’s job (after their PSI), to interpret and enter these records into the official court’s 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, etc.; there is no formal embedded pathway that allows the defendant’s legal team to make a qualified prison facility placement recommendation request within the current PSR format. This would be beneficial because it could help reduce the defendants paperwork in Que, while saving the associated costs however rare, of a medical or non-medical transfer 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 in learning a specific occupational trade. All in an attempt to positively change their and their family’s future, while ensuring a successful reentry back into their communities, reducing the recidivism paradigm.
The remaining, albeit significant challenge is a political one, that being the removal of the word ‘felony’ (in certain cases) from a defendants record. This is because the word ‘felony’ appears on most job applications prohibiting the offender from reentering the job pool before they ever get to the interview.
The Sentencing Hearing
An Opportunity to Make A Prison Placement Recommendation Request for Your Client
Don’t let this be 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 sentencing (federal or state) in detail. Regarding federal, this includes the details involved in a defendants prison placement along with how their Medical and Mental Healthcare is delivered through the BOP’s CARE LEVEL I-IV structure.
- 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 BOP to make these placement decisions, which are assumed accurate, without oversight. The result is that at a later date, for some there may be subsequent transfers being requested due to erroneous initial placements, however rare. Ultimately it is cheaper, ethical and medically prudent to provide these placements accurately the first time.
- See if the prosecution will support your position before the sentencing hearing.
- “It is hoped that with a better understanding of the process, stakeholders can provide information that will assist the Bureau in exercising its designation authority in a manner which satisfies the offenders needs while providing for the Bureaus safety and security requirements.” How Federal Prisoners Are Placed; by Alicia Vasquez and Todd Bussert.
Reentry preparation starts before placement
An opportunity to reduce 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 want to change, and create a positive future for themselves and their families? 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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