Search results for presentence interview

YOUR PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW DETERMINES PROBATION, PRISON, BOTH, OR FREEDOM

 …WILL YOU BE PREPARED?

Humanize You To Your Judge Through: 1)Your Personal (Story) Narrative, 2)Prepping You For Your Presentence Interview, and 3)Prison Expectations – What Happens Day One (The Dos and Don’ts Inside)

Preparing defendants for their Presentence Interview (PSI) and first day in prison helps alleviate the fears that you and your family naturally experience. This informative PowerPoint presentation comprehensively covers various aspects, starting from how to prepare for your Presentence Interview to what to do after entering the prison.

For instance, counsel should verify if the court’s (or your) intake paperwork, such as The PSR and J&C, has been received before the defendant (you) arrives. Not doing so may result in solitary confinement or isolation, as it did in my case. This video is a good introduction, and I am here to help in any way possible.

 


OPTION 1,

 


Call 240.888.7778 for a personal one-on-one call
to discuss your current issue or that of a loved one.

-Marc Blatstein

We are not Attorneys; you need Legal Representation.


 

OPTION 2,

Presentence Interview Preparation  ⇒ The Most Important Meeting of Your Life.

Nothing Is Guaranteed, But Being Unprepared Is Unacceptable


In Video 19.1. To increase your chances of a favorable outcome, it is recommended that you provide your Officer with all the requested documents, including your Biographical Background (such as medical records), Personal Identification, and a well-written Personal Narrative and Release Plan. You may also consider providing these in both written and video formats, as this can make it easier for the judge to understand who you are as an individual.

Before submitting your materials to your Probation Officer, please ensure they are proofread, organized, and submitted 1-2 weeks before your interview. Your Probation Officer can copy and paste your written version into your Presentence Report while attaching the original document to the report physically. I hope this advice is helpful to you.

Please download our sample BOP (Bureau of Prisons) packet to show you what a strong placement request packet contains. We include the programs specifically designed to support a successful placement and rehabilitation, keeping in mind that even the BOP Medical Centers also appear affected due to physician staffing shortages. By providing this information to the court, you can demonstrate a clear plan for your client’s rehabilitation and increase the likelihood of a favorable placement outcome. 👉 FPC Alderson.


5 STEPS OF PREPARATION

 

STEP 1

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
PROBATION REPORT, THE PROCESS

BIOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND / PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION

The Critical Role of the Presentence Report is an article that I co-published. In this video, I read the article Published in The Federal Lawyer regarding Medical Care in Federal Prison, including my commentaries throughout the article. If you have a medical issue, I recommend listening; it is informative and detail-oriented.

Prisoners have the right to receive adequate medical care per their constitutional rights. However, lawyers representing criminal defendants often do not understand what this entails and how to get treatment for their clients. This article aims to address this knowledge gap by providing insights into the medical, mental health, and substance abuse programs and policies offered by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Additionally, the article highlights the educational, vocational, and other relevant programs that are available to rehabilitate inmates and prepare them for their re-entry into society.

Equally important, the article explains the Critical Role of the Presentence Report (PSR) in determining whether and how needed treatment and programs will be available to a defendant. Documentation is paramount, and the diligent attorney must proactively gather and supply the appropriate documentation to the probation officer preparing their client’s PSR.


 

How well you are prepared for your Presentence Interview will affect your sentence and eligibility for specific BOP FIRST STEP ACT Programs. The Probation Report covers.

  1. Mental/Emotional Health and Physical Health
  2. Substance Abuse
  3. Education, Vocational and Other Skills and Military Career
  4. Employment
  5. Acceptance of Responsibility
  6. Criminal History

For each client, we create an individual client profile or history.

If you become aware that you are the target of an FBI inquiry, it is of utmost importance to engage the services of a legal professional. Begin by evaluating potential lawyers and posing pertinent inquiries until you feel at ease.

  • Your legal team needs to be empathetic and listen to and discuss any thoughts you may have, as well as you being forthright with them about the events of the crime, is vital.
  • Even though I thought I was truthful, in hindsight, I realized that I was still in denial and not the optimal client until years later.
  • You want to prepare your NARRATIVE and RELEASE Plan and begin asking for letters attesting to your Character. Your attorneys’ support goes a long way in building this team effort as you prepare for your Interview.

STEP
2

DECISION TIME: TRIAL OR PLEA

When dealing with court cases, the federal government boasts a remarkable conviction rate of 98%. Nonetheless, if you and your legal team are convinced that going to trial is worth it and you have faith in the strength of your case (remembering that merely feeling correct might not suffice), then you may want to pursue this option.

As you are looking to hire an attorney for a federal case, it’s essential to ask your legal team about their track record in taking similar cases to trial and winning. This information will give you an idea of their expertise and the likelihood of success in your case. It’s also essential to ask these questions before engaging your attorney, as it will help you decide whether to hire them as you listen to advice you do not want to hear -but it is honestly delivered.

Similarly, if you are considering an appeal, it’s crucial to know if your legal team has experience with appeals and how many they have won. This information will help determine if they have the necessary skills to handle your case effectively.

In summary, before hiring an attorney or considering an appeal,  ask your legal team about their track record in handling and winning similar cases. This information will help you make an informed decision and increase your chances of success.

  • If you lose, the prosecutor may ask for a harsher sentence, but you can still take measures to mitigate your sentence through your NARRATIVE.

STEP 3

YOU HAVE BEEN FOUND GUILTY

  • It doesn’t matter how long the sentence is because you can shorten it through your efforts and work; just don’t get disciplined.

2023, USSC 2 Level Reduction – An Overview. If you are eligible, this could instantly reduce your sentence.

RDAP: (Up to 1 Year off Sentence)

  • Eligibility should be included in your presentence interview if you are eligible.

Good Time Credit (GTC): 54 Days Per Year Off Sentence 

  • What is this? How do you get it? How do you lose it?

First Step Act (FSA): For some, after 2 years of Programs, it provides 1 Year Off Sentence.

  • Earned Time Credits (ETC) What is this? Is this guaranteed?

Second Chance Act: May provide more time in RRC or Home Confinement.

  • How does this work, and again, what is this?

Medical Care,

  • For a person facing custody, I have been stressing for years – that preparing your comprehensive medical history long before the Presentence Interview is critical to providing the court and BOP with your medical background as a baseline to refer to.
    • When it comes to providing medical care to individuals with unique medical conditions while in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), it is crucial to have a comprehensive medical history that includes all medical records, including reports of surgeries (including pathology reports), diagnostic X-rays, CT, MRI, ultrasounds, EEGs, EKGs, and PET scans (Reports on CD or Flash Drives). All recent blood tests, prescriptions (Drugs and Medical Devices), hospital records, and treatment plans from their treating physician.
      • To ensure that the patient/inmate receives the appropriate care, it is essential to gather all relevant documentation and contact information for physicians, including their name, phone number, email, and address.
      • It is advisable to prepare thoroughly for The Presentence Interview, especially if there are concerns about medical care from the patient, their attorney, or treating physician. Doing so makes it possible to plan strategically and ensure the patient-inmate receives the necessary care during their time in the BOP. Still remember, no guarantees once incarcerated, which is why attention to detail at the start is in your long-term interest.
    • Why is this detail important?
  • Fatigue after COVID, as a POST-COVID LONG-HAULER. Although CARES is finished, for those with a confirmed diagnosis, their symptoms will keep them from participating in Programming plus some Activities of Daily Living (ADL), putting them in the position of potentially getting multiple Infractions due to the on-again, off-again of their symptomatic rollercoaster.
  • Patient Care.
    Clinical care of inmates at Bureau institutions is under the direction of the local prison Clinical Director, who provides direct patient care and supervises other healthcare providers. P6031.04 6/3/2014, Page #5
  • The Clinical Director (CD) is not obligated to follow consultant recommendations. If the recommendations are not followed, the CD will document his/her justification in the inmate health record. P6031.04 6/3/2014, Page #8
    • All encounters by consultant providers will be documented on the SF-513. Contract consultants who evaluate inmates within the institution will not document on the Progress Notes(?).
    • All consultation reports will be reviewed, co-signed, and dated by the Clinical Director or staff physician. P6031.04 6/3/2014, Page 20
  • EMERGENCY/URGENT CARE
    • Each institution will have an Institution Supplement for 24-hour medical, dental, and mental health care. P6031.04 6/3/2014, Page #9
    • While the Mid-level Practitioner (MLP) acts as the PCPT’s primary care provider, physicians (MD, DO) are also responsible for providing direct patient care. Physicians will medically manage inmates with complex conditions on an ongoing basis, notwithstanding the assignment of that inmate to an MLP.  P6031.04 6/3/2014, Page #15

STEP 4

YOUR PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW 

The Probation Officer representing the court will conduct your interview and draft the Official Presentence Report. This report will influence your Judge at sentencing, the prison you go to, your security level, and how long your stay will be. It will determine the medical care you receive and your ability to participate in First Step Act Earned Time Credits toward early release.

Known as ‘The Inmates Bible,’ it is the Gift that keeps on Giving. This was my 2nd video and covers the Presentence Report. It is critical as it will determine where you sleep, what you eat, the classes you take, and how easily or difficult your time will be.

You have provided all of your background and personal information, answered the questions that all judges want to hear and learn about you through your written NARRATIVE and Release Plan, and provided everything in an organized format to your Probation Officer 1-2 weeks before your interview (The PSI).

  • Now, at your interview, you and the officer have the time to have a casual conversation (with your attorney present), answering any questions they may have.
  • In the end, your P.O. may come away from your meeting feeling that you are quite different than the person described in your Indictment as you came to the interview prepared, more than any other defendant they have interviewed recently. This, in turn, could result in a favorable recommendation to the Judge and a favorable Presentence Report.
  • But keep in mind at all times, there are No Guarantees as people are just people, and there are those who have good days and others who don’t. 
  • With that thought in mind, doing this work will ultimately benefit you in the long run.

STEP 5

SENTENCING

The Day of Sentencing and Your Allocution

The Allocution is the first time you and the Judge meet – a critical moment for you. This allows the Judge to converse with you, most likely because of your Narrative. Make this a sincere 1st impression.


Judges would rather hear from you during the sentencing hearing unless your attorney has new information not contained in your sentencing memorandum and other submissions.” By Now, You’ve taken your 1st step towards Shortening Your Time In Prison.


MAKING THE PLACEMENT REQUEST. 

  1. Supports your reasons regarding “Why” the request is being made,
  2. Provides examples from the BOPs’ own Guidelines and Programs Statements.
  3. It is done with a personalized court-ready BOP placement packet, PPRS Prison Match™ (Our BOP Packet For Presentation To The Court That Includes The Programs In Your Placement Request, for Example FPC Alderson).

PLACEMENT FACTORS
Security Level Requirements
Medical and Mental Healthcare Needs
Psychology Programs – Limited Availability
FSA Programming, and Criminogenic Needs, Risk Assessment

 

OTHER FACTORS
• FSA Pattern Risk Score: MALE, FEMALE
CARE LEVEL I-IV
Public Safety Factors
Management Variable
Accepting Responsibility
Mental Health Questioner
Expressing Remorse For Your Actions
• Remorse For The Pain You Have Caused To Your Victims
Do You Know Where You Fall In The USSC Sentencing Guidelines – Table,
* Tax Fraud
* Financial Crimes
* Drug Crimes, / Sentence Enhancements


Care has been taken to pick an appropriate prison facility based on USSC and BOP Policies and Guidelines.

*There is no implied or otherwise guarantee of final prison placement, medical or medication availability, or program enrollment once you’re incarcerated. The BOP has the final say on ‘All Inmate Issues,’ placement, and program enrollment once incarcerated.

In addition to the defense teams’ insight into their background and defense strategy, PPRS Prison Match™  is meant to be used solely as a ‘mitigation aide’ in the sentencing and prison placement decision-making process.

These are recommendations only from PPRS/PPRSUS, and the final responsibility lies with the legal team, court, and BOP.



If You Suspect You’re The Target of a Federal Investigation | Wherever You Are In The Process – There Are Still Things We Can Do

Call 240.888.7778 for a personal one-on-one call
to discuss your current issue or that of a loved one.

-Marc Blatstein

We are not Attorneys; you need Legal Representation.


PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW PREPARATION, ⚖️TREATMENTS THAT ARE ‘ALLOWED’ IN FEDERAL PRISON – BUT NO🤞 GUARANTEES…

PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW PREPARATION, ⚖️TREATMENTS THAT ARE ‘ALLOWED’ IN FEDERAL PRISON – BUT NO🤞 GUARANTEES…

👉The DOJ encourages corporations and individuals to adopt strong ethical guidelines, internal controls, and compliance programs to prevent and detect any malfeasance – until they don’t.

This short YouTube includes my commentary on an article I co-published in The Federal Lawyer 1/2021, regarding The Critical Role of The Presentence Report.


👉SCOPE OF MEDICAL SERVICES – CATEGORIES OF CARE (Program Statement 6031.01, Patient Care, Pages 5-7)

Note: Ordinarily, pretrial or non-sentenced inmates, and inmates with less than 12 months to serve, are ineligible for health services in subsections III., IV., and V. Subsections IV and V are also usually not provided.

All of this emphasizes the reasons for the preparation of a Complete, Accurate, and overly Comprehensive,👉 Presentence Report.

  • If you are being sentenced, have a medical condition that requires surgery (for example, orthopedic, that adversely affects your Activity of Daily Living, or have a failing Kidney that needs to be removed), but you’re unable to get the procedure before you surrender; this is when your Presentence Report is critical.
  • When accurate, it will include, 1) detailed medical records that explain your diagnosis and treatment plan, 2) what would happen if this treatment is not provided, and 3) a placement request to the appropriate BOP Federal Medical Center (FMC).
  • Your medication that is not on the BOP Formulary, or a generic drug that is either Non-Formulary or Not Available is something that you do not want to learn after your inside. Being overly Comprehensive for your Presentence Interview is a must – and a unique topic all by itself.

Why? Should you need a second opinion, or consult with a specialist, you may have to wait up to 18 months just to learn if this is even allowed. If granted, it could take another 18 months just to get your appointment. After you have had your appointment, and the Clinical Director at your facility is in receipt of the specialist’s recommendations – they (The BOP) are under No Obligation to follow those recommendations, rather, they are just placed in your file. Further, courts cannot order specific treatment or medication to be used (#9), after you have been incarcerated. Therefore, a great starting point is being prepared for the Presentence Interview, where the Probation Officer will, in turn, draft the official Presentence Report.


The BOP’s five categories upon which all medical care is provided.

I. Life-Threatening,  Medically Necessary – Acute or Emergent

■ Myocardial infarction. ■ Severe trauma such as head injuries. ■ Hemorrhage. ■ Stroke. ■ Status asthmaticus. ■ Precipitous labor or complications associated with pregnancy. ■ Detached retina, sudden loss of vision.

Treatment is essential to sustain life or function and warrants immediate attention.

II. Medically Necessary but Not Urgent,

■ Serious deterioration leading to premature death. ■ Significant reduction in the possibility of repair later without present treatment. ■ Significant pain or discomfort which impairs the inmate’s participation in activities of daily living.

While not immediately life-threatening, without treatment, the person’s overall health and, or ADL may not be maintained.

III. Medically Appropriate but Not Necessary; to improve the person’s quality of life

■ Joint replacement. ■ Reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee. ■ Treatment of non-cancerous skin conditions (e.g. skin tags, lipomas)

These always require review by the Institution Utilization Review regarding,

■ The risks and benefits of the treatment. ■ Available resources. ■ Natural history of the condition. ■ The effect of the intervention on inmate functioning in his/her activities of daily living.

These are considered elective procedures, to improve the inmate’s quality of life, and may or may not be allowed.

IV. Limited Medical Value.

■ Minor conditions that are self-limiting. ■ Cosmetic procedures (e.g. blepharoplasty). ■ Removal of non-cancerous skin lesions (if you have a history of skin cancer, two issues are present, (1) hope that the prison healthcare provider has this type of training to recognize Cancer, and (2) that your Presentence Report has your history reported in detail).

V. Extraordinary.

■ Organ transplant or Donor, or ■ Those Considered Investigational


👉The PRESENTENCE REPORT (PSR), IS YOUR “REFERRAL” THAT CONTROLS ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE, AND IMMEDIATE FUTURE – REDOS ARE VERY FEWEXPENSIVE, AND A HEAVY LIFT. THEREFORE ACCURACY AND COMPLETENESS CANNOT BE OVERSTATED.


If you find this helpful, please 👉subscribe and share it with your colleagues. With more to follow, should you have any questions, are interested in engaging my services, or have any suggestions for future topics, I am easy to reach, and thank you for your time.

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Marc, Dr. Blatstein

This also appears in LinkedIn

THE PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW; Determines Placement and How Fast You’re Released

Is your referral to the Judge and then into the BOP

  • The Probation Officer, as he/she drafts The Presentence Report based on what they learn from you and their investigation.
  • The Judge, as we all know, he/she uses at sentencing,
  • The BOP uses THE PRESENTENCE REPORT as a Referral for placement, based on your clients:
  • 18 U.S. Code §3553, Provides options: critical in mitigating your client’s sentence and requires time to be developed by the defense.
    DrMB@PPRSUS.com

The Presentence Interview Investigation Report: Is Your Chance To Get Your Message On The Record

The Presentence Interview Investigation Report 

The Personal Narrative

Start  preparation as early as possible after your conviction,

* Your attorney should reach out to the Probation Officer

* When is the initial Presentence Report “date due”

* Defense can be 1st to explain your position if the PO was not at trial, and has not already spoken with the Prosecutor

* They still may have an open mind.

 

A little extra effort goes a long way …

* Consider presenting your client’s biographical history that explains your position in an “organized” letter to the PO, ASAP.

* As Probation Officers are: Very busy Doing their best – and Never have enough time.

  • They may appreciate your efforts in easing this portion    of their workload,

* Remember, a little effort does go a long way.
DrMB@PPRSUS.com

Presentence Interview Preparation – Gets Your “Message On The Record”

Getting The Presentence Interview (PSI) Right

Gets Your “Message On The Record”

The Presentence Interview, and its preparation, long before the interview takes place is likely the pivotal time when the defense team can make a difference in their client’s future. Properly prepared for the presentence interview can at best provide a pathway for the defense to get “their” message on the record.

Abstract

Imprisonment is a frightening experience for your client and their family. Counsel and the defendant’s family together can assuage some of these fears by addressing healthcare and the specialty programs available in Federal Prison before the defendant is in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) through being properly prepared for their presentence interview,

The Presentence Interview

The Presentence Interview:

  • is done by the Probation Officer (the court’s representative).
  • Following their investigation where they verify your background history,
  • the Probation Officer will take what she/he learned from the presentence interview and draft the official Presentence Report (PSR) along with,
  • making sentencing and placement recommendations to the judge.

 

The Presentence Report (PSR) Importance

The Presentence Report (PSR) also plays a critical role in the Sentencing Guidelines and statutory sentencing considerations, meaning,

  • The judge at sentencing will use it to determine how long you will be incarcerated,
  • The BOP will use it to 1st: place or designate you to a specific facility while matching you according to any needs you may have based on: 
    • security level,
    • prison placement,
    • programming,
    • pre-release, and even
    • medical care.
    • The inmate’s federal prison life depends on that PSR.
  • Should you qualify for Supervised Release,
    • Probation will then get a copy before meeting you in order to get an idea as to whom they are going to supervise over the next several years. 
  • Last, The Presentence Report (PSR) is considered:
    • gospel fact about the defendant.
    • This is because it is often considered the “Inmates Bible”.
    • So you see: It Truly Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving...

One cannot overstate the importance of The Presentence Interview to be properly prepared for – as it impacts The Presentence Report (PSR).

Asking to change the PSR later asks a court to,

  • change positions that it has already adopted as accurate.
  • Even if this can be done – a big if –
  • the amendment process can take years and
  • many billable hours to complete.

Should there be a medical or mental healthcare issue,

  • the PSR drafting process is the time to get it right.
  • An inaccurate PSR can mean a lack of consideration at sentencing and
  • inappropriate or absent care after imprisonment.

For example, if kidney dialysis is necessary,

Everything is important, from osteoarthritis and degenerative joint diseases to food allergies and medically necessary diets.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

  • Everything needs to be documented, including:
  • how any maladies would limit “activities of daily living” (“ADL”).
    • Patient-inmates are considered ‘independent’ if they can accomplish their Activities of Daily Living (ADL) – things like dressing, bathing, and eating – on their own.

Medications

Medications must also be identified to estimate which prescription drugs the BOP will make available. It is critical to identify whether given medications are available,

  1. On- Formulary, or
  2. Non-Formulary medication.
    • Understand that the BOP will discourage the use of non-formulary medications
    • They require that they need special approval.
    • More likely, BOP physicians will just switch the inmate’s treatment medications to those that have similar equivalents.
    • Do you know which medications are either available and on-formulary or non-formulary?
    • These issues should be addressed with the court before incarceration because,
      • after incarceration, the court has no real oversight.
      • Letters from the client’s personal physicians should provide documentation about their prescription selection, and
        • reasons why “similar” medicines are not appropriate for individual inmates.
  3. Last, What do you do if you learn that your client’s medication are not available?
    • There are options, but you need:
      • Time
      • The cooperation of the current treating physician

Medical Care

  1. Today the BOP uses a complicated method to convert a person’s medical diagnoses and treatments into a CARE LEVEL Classification. 
    • Classifications range from CARE LEVEL I for the healthiest inmate-patient, to
    • CARE LEVEL IV for gravely ailing inmate-patients who need ‘in-patient’ care. 
  1. Each facility then is identified by both a Security Level and this
  2. CARE LEVEL structure and inmates are then placed accordingly.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com

THE PRESENTENCE REPORT

What is The Presentence Report?

The PRESENTENCE REPORT (PSR), IS YOUR “REFERRAL” THAT CONTROLS ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE AND IMMEDIATE FUTURE – REDOS ARE VERY FEW, EXPENSIVE, AND HEAVY LIFT.

ITS ACCURACY AND COMPLETENESS CANNOT BE OVERSTATED.

YOUR NARRATIVE CONTAINS ALL THE CONTENT FOR THE PROBATION OFFICERS REPORT

IT IMPACTS YOUR

Release Date

It includes You Accepting Responsibility,

Your Remorse,

Acknowledging Your Victim’s Pain

‘Standing Out To Your Judge.’ M. Santos interviews Federal Judge Mark Bennett on the importance of writing Your Personal NARRATIVE and including it in Your Presentence Report. 

IT DETERMINES YOUR,

Security Level Requirements

Medical and Mental Healthcare Needs

Psychology Programs – Limited Availability

FSA Programming, and Criminogenic Needs, Risk Assessment


For a personal, one-on-one call with me to discuss your current issue or that of a loved one,  give me a call (240.888.7778). If I cannot answer, please leave a message, as I personally return all calls. Marc Blatstein

We are not Attorneys; you need Legal Representation.


BEING PREPARED – SUMMARIZED:

  1. PREPARED FOR YOUR FIRST MEETING WITH YOUR UNIT TEAM:
  • 1st) AS SOON AS YOU ARRIVED AND LOCATED A COMPUTER, YOU HAVE ALREADY TAKEN YOUR FSASPARC-13 RISK ASSESSMENT SURVEY,
  • 2nd)REQUEST TO PARTICIPATE IN THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY PROGRAM.
  1. YOUR PATTERN SCORE IS FIXED AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME – BUT CAN CHANGE; WHAT IS YOURS? (MALE or FEMALE)
  2. AS SOON AS YOU ‘FELT’ YOU WERE A TARGET
  • INTERVIEW AND FIND A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WHO PRACTICES IN FEDERAL COURT

AFTER YOUR GUILTY HEARING, YOUR ATTORNEY

  • Has given you a long list of documents that the court needs copies of financial, medical, Biographical, and Identification Background Information
  • Next, you begin a several-month writing project that includes;

Presentence Report, plus your Allocution and

Release/Reentry Plan, where the Judge will ask you, “What is your plan for the future – to not re-offend?),

All of this, As You Prepare For,

YOUR PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW (PSI) – INVESTIGATION REPORT

 


PREPARATION FOR THE PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW.

9:30.7 Inside Baseball: Interview With Former Federal Probation Officer Tess Lopez

For a successful and productive legal process to occur, both counsel and clients must maintain a level of accountability and mutual respect. Additionally, active listening on both sides is crucial for effective communication and understanding. As part of this process, counsel will proactively reach out to Probation as needed, and defendants will provide their attorneys with all requested Biographical Background and Personal Identification information. By adhering to these guidelines, all parties involved can work towards achieving the best possible outcome.

It is critical to take time to draft a well-thought-out NARRATIVE and RELEASE Plan, including content relevant to the PATTERN score and Risk Assessment Survey. These documents are then woven together, organized, and prepared with accuracy and comprehensiveness before being given to the probation officer 1-2 weeks before the interview, to be eventually included in their PSR Under Seal.

The interview process holds immense significance as it offers a valuable chance for the Probation Officer to establish a personal connection with the client. Given the constraint of limited time, this opportunity is greatly appreciated by both parties involved. It allows for a deeper understanding of the client’s situation and helps the Probation Officer to provide tailored guidance and support.

The Presentence Report is a crucial tool that enables the court to take into account sentences that fall outside the guideline range. It’s important to note that the government typically does not provide this information voluntarily. By utilizing the Presentence Report, the court can make informed decisions about variances in sentencing.

  1. Counsel aims to determine the “dictation date,” which is the deadline for the P.O. to complete the initial draft of the official Presentence Report (PSR).

Upon commencing their work, the counsel and client are promptly informed of the specific timeline requirements to complete their respective tasks. Any legal or personal concerns that the client may have must be addressed within the given time frame, in addition to preparing for the upcoming interview. All necessary steps must be taken to ensure that the entire process runs smoothly and efficiently.

Requesting a minimum of three months to prepare for the interview is imperative. This request should have been made during the guilty hearing, and the judge must agree before setting the sentencing date.

Counsel should contact the PO before they speak with the Prosecutor. It’s important to build a relationship and assess what the PO knows. This allows the council to explain its position because the PO was not present in court and has not formed an opinion yet.

They may still have an open mind if they have not spoken with the prosecutor.

If the PO had already spoken with the Prosecutor before they ever met/interviewed you – they may have already been influenced, just not in your favor.

Your attorney aims to make their case and position with a personal meeting.

As you work on your personal narrative, it will undergo several revisions before reaching its final form. This is your chance to tell your story authentically and sincerely, taking responsibility for your actions. As you are writing try and keep in mind what your judge and Probation Officer are looking to hear and feel from you. By keeping these points in mind, will go a long way as you begin to tell your life story. Your Personal Narrative, as an integral part of your Presentence Report and will reflect your unique perspective on the events that led to your arrest.

Begin by writing your Release Plan, then prepare an Allocution for your conversation with the judge during sentencing.

When it comes to the Sentencing Hearing, remember to speak from your heart and answer the Judge’s questions truthfully. Your honesty will shine through and be heard by the Judge.

When making a prison placement request, Counsel will provide reasons for the request, such as medical or FSA programs.

BOP Example: FPC Alderson,

Counsel will outline each factor for the PO to consider under 18 U.S. Code § 3553

Part E (assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another, section 994 of title 28)

Part F (sentence below the guideline range under 18 U.S.C. §3553(a)) 

Defendant does Not Have:

1) more than 4 criminal history points, 2) a prior 3-point offense, or 3) a prior 2-point violent offense

  • did not use violent threats
  • did not result in death or injury
  • was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor
  • defendant has truthfully provided the Government with all information and evidence

If the probation officer is open to a variation, persuading the court to impose a sentence below the guideline range could be crucial.

If your client is sentenced to prison, the Presentence Report (PSR) and Statement of Reasons (SOR) are crucial documents used by the BOP to determine their future.

During the probation officer meeting, the information presented will play a vital role in determining the client’s placement. Depending on the severity of the offense, the client may be sent to a dormitory-style camp or a maximum-security prison. This decision is especially crucial in complex cases involving multiple counts, various methods of calculating the guidelines and identifying the most appropriate guidelines to follow. Therefore, the information presented during the meeting must be accurate and comprehensive to ensure a fair and just outcome for all parties involved.

Establishing a connection with your probation officer by means of personal communication can be beneficial for your defense attorney to present their interpretation of the case, particularly in intricate cases.

To ensure the best outcome for the case, it may be beneficial for the lawyer to schedule a personal meeting with the Probation Officer (PO) if they were absent during the trial. As Probation Officers have a demanding workload, it is important to approach them with understanding and offer any assistance possible to ease their burden. By taking these extra steps, the lawyer can ensure that the PO understands the case and their position, which can positively impact the outcome.

It is advisable to promptly write a letter to the PO presenting your complete perspective on the case.

Before requesting relief from the Guidelines, having the Probation Officer and Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) understand your client’s behavior and role in the offense is important. Also, ensure everything is completed and handed in before the interview and dictation date.

If you’re getting ready for a trial, it’s always wise to seek guidance from a Federal Defender on how to familiarize yourself with the judge’s preferences. You should inquire if the judge reads sentencing memos and character letters, and if yes, how long they should be. It’s also important to consider whether there are any issues like overcrowding, staff shortages, or any other factors that may impact your client’s ability to access the necessary services. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your client receives the best possible outcome.

 

Mental Illness: Was this a contributing factor, or has there been significant abuse or trauma? Either way, they should be evaluated, and if you are unsure of a local expert, ask the prosecutor for recommendations.

  • If there is a current treating therapist, it is best for all if they appear as witnesses; most judges would rather hear from a treating physician than a doctor for hire. This is not to put down experts, as they provide expert testimony that can only come from a select few.
  • If, on their own, treatment was started before the indictment, Guilty Hearing, PSI, or Sentencing, all the better. (AA, NA, GA, Psych. Counseling); this needs to be included in the PSR, Sentencing Memorandum…
  • A White Collar defendant, where after an extensive interview, the following is the result of a mental evaluation,
  • Exceptionally bright, high-functioning, and very successful individual.
  • He/She is very skilled, highly motivated, and works 18-20-hour days for money-promotions-privileges.
  • The client is an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist.
  • Suffers from depression and anxiety.
  • Having an overwhelming desire to be successful, personally and financially
  • This may cause an ordinarily law-abiding person to “cross the line” into inappropriate or illegal behavior.
  • Familiar?
  • Later diagnosed with bipolar disorder
  • Latest statistics by the U.S. Sentencing Commission
  • 6 percent of inmates received downward departures for diminished capacity (U.S.S.G. §5K2.13).
  • If half of the inmates have symptoms of mental health problems,
  • yet only 2.6 percent are receiving departures, are the judges simply insensitive?
  • Or does the problem lie at the feet of the defense counsel, who is not taking the time to investigate the client’s social and psychological history thoroughly?
  • Unfortunately, I believe it is the latter.  Tess Lopez.

 

Character Letters: only pick out a few to discuss in the memorandum, but add at the end that “there were another 50 that all said similar things, and the PO has those.”

If an employer is willing to write a character letter that says they will rehire you due to your skills and character once you are released – that is a Great letter for The NARRATIVE and Release Plan. 


The Sentencing Memorandum is best submitted approximately seven days before the sentencing hearing,

Corroborate your defense and placement request with the appropriate supporting documents, albeit a doctor’s letter/ report/ medical/treatment records, etc. Remember to document, document, document.

All of this is preferably done under seal via the Probation Office so that the information is appended to the PSR when given to the BOP.

Therefore, including it in some manner during the Presentence Interview is optimal.

In The Sentencing Memorandum, give the Judge 1 or 2 cases with the highlighted pertinent points; if there is a video or pictures, include those. 

  1. 18 U.S.C. §3553(a)(2)(D) requires a sentencing court to consider The Nature and Circumstances of the offense and The History and Characteristics of the Defendant. In the client’s NARRATIVE, most of this should be covered.

To determine which 18 U.S.C. §3553(a) factors apply, while someone with experience should:

1st) Conduct in-depth (multi-hour) interviews with the defendant, should an evaluation be needed (even in White-Collar). Now is the time, and

2nd) plus having the time (multi-hours) to speak with family members, close friends, and business associates or trusted employees to understand the person better.

As most Officers do not have ‘any’ time, at times, this is left to counsel to do themselves. This provides the opportunity to discuss hiring someone to do this part of the background work, or it may just not get done.

Evaluation of the care needed for a client’s medical condition – may support a cost-related (home confinement) argument.

This is most apparent in defendants diagnosed with a terminal illness or a diagnosis that falls outside the scope of what the BOP can provide (Long-Haulersor Post-COVID).

The cost of incarceration should also be factored into whether a sentence is “greater than necessary.”

Last are those, where appropriate, emphasizing to the court what the client would be doing if not incarcerated (i.e., working, supporting a family, paying taxes, and/or restitution).

 

The Presentence Report Determines Your Future – So Preparation For Your Interview is Vital

  • Judges use the PSR to determine the length of a sentence.
  • The Bureau of Prisons (BOP)uses the same PSR for prison placement.
  • The PSR is again used by Probation during Supervised Release.
  • Lastly, this same PSR becomes a permanent part of your record and the Inmates Bible – It truly is, the gift that keeps on giving.

YOUR PRESENTENCE REPORT = YOUR FUTURE LIFE

Presentence Report

DO YOU KNOW:
WHERE?
AND

HOW LONG YOU WILL SERVE?

 

 Your Presentence Report (PSR)

 

The PRESENTENCE REPORT (PSR) is your “REFERRAL THAT CONTROLS ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE AND IMMEDIATE FUTURE – REDOS ARE FEW, EXPENSIVE, AND A HEAVY LIFT.

ITS ACCURACY AND COMPLETENESS CANNOT BE OVERSTATED.

 

WILL ALL YOUR WORK BE SUBMITTED TO YOUR PROBATION OFFICER, ‘1-2 WEEKS BEFORE’ YOUR PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW?

WHAT DOES PREPARATION LOOK LIKE?

  1. PROVIDE ALL COPIES OF YOUR BIOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND AND PERSONAL I.D. 
  2. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU SPEND TIME SELF-REFLECTING,
    • THEN, WRITE YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY OR LIFE STORY AND EXPLAIN WHAT CAUSED YOU TO BREAK THE LAW WITHOUT EXCUSES, ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY AND HAVING REMORSE FOR THE VICTIMS YOU HAVE HARMED.
    • WHY  – DID YOU LIKE YOUR FEDERAL INDICTMENT? THAT IS THE DOJ NARRATIVE (OR STORY) OF YOU. TO COUNTER IT, TELL YOUR OWN STORY OR NARRATIVE.
    • HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT WRITING IT?

Judges understand that crimes do not happen in a vacuum. They are also very interested in hearing from you, the defendant, in your own words. What happened – that caused you to break the law? Include the significant parts of your life and the low points, omitting nothing. Include The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I hope you find this video helpful.

 

FACTORS THAT IMPACT YOUR RELEASE DATE

  • Your Remorse
  • Acknowledging Your Victim’s Pain
  • It includes You Accepting Responsibility

 

THE PRESENTENCE REPORT DETERMINES YOUR


Call 240.888.7778 for a personal one-on-one call
to discuss your current issue or that of a loved one.

-Marc Blatstein

We are not Attorneys; you need Legal Representation.


 

This video reviews how The Presentence Report (PSR) Determines Your Future. Therefore, Preparation Is Critical At Each Stage In The Process, as a Criminal Defendant and Later as a Justice-Impacted Person. 

      • Judges use the PSR to determine the length of a sentence.
      • The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) uses the same PSR for prison placement.
      • Probation again uses the PSR during Supervised Release.
      • Lastly, this same PSR becomes a permanent part of your record and the Inmates Bible – The gift that keeps on giving.

The Presentence Report (PSR); Thoughts On Preparation – Narrative – COVID

The Presentence Report (PSR)

I) Preparation 

  • This includes an inclusive biographical history:
  • Past and Current Medical and Mental Healthcare needs
  • Medications
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical Devices needed
  • ADL (Activities of Daily Living), PADL (Prison Activities of Daily Living)

II) Your Narrative

  • Express remorse, while still understanding the victim’s pain, suffering, and how it has impacted them.
  • Agree with the court as to the seriousness of the crime, without minimizing it. Expand on this topic
  • What in your life brought you to this moment, what happened that caused you to do this?
  • What has this experience taught you? Did it bring up moments from your past?
  • Explain to the Judge that you have a plan (only if you do),
    • to start making this right with those you have victimized –
    • or if you have already started, what are they,
    • no matter how small those efforts have been?
  • If it’s been a year or so since your verdict, what have you been doing?
    • (1)Working, (2)volunteering, or watching: (3)TV (only options 1 and 2 are correct).
  • What is your plan to never re-offend? If there was a “trigger,” what was that trigger, and how do you remove it from your life?

III) COVID, unfortunately, will be with us for a long time, like the seasonal Flu.

  • Unfortunately, it is much more lethal.long covid
  • 2022/2023, We’ve gone from pandemic to endemic
  • Practically all that means is that as a society:
    • Some believe in prevention and others do not
    • The result is that while influenza has a ~ 52K deaths / per year
    • COVID and its variants may be 10 x as much
  • More importantly, new strains are more than likely to present themselves, and masks along with new technology in indoor air filtering are in our future.
  • Long-COVID, Long-Haulers, or Post-COVID; these symptoms may be mitigating factors to present before the presentence interview as no jail, or prison (state or federal) is equipped to provide the necessary care.
    • Beyond that, this would not be a qualifier for either 100% CARE LEVEL III or ADL as the symptoms could keep one between sleep, the bathroom, meals, and at best a short walk.

WITH THE FSA👉EARLY RELEASE IS POSSIBLE. ⚖️

“STAKEHOLDERS”⚖️ NEED TO SEE REDUCTIONS IN CRIMINOGENIC TENDENCIES; ✍ WE SHOW YOU HOW

Dr. M. Blatstein

Dr. M. Blatstein

FEDERAL SENTENCE MITIGATION: PERSONAL NARRATIVE | PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW PREP. | ALLOCUTION | REENTRY PLANNING | RDAP | HEALTHCARE | MEDICATION AVAILABILITY | BOP PLACEMENT – I answer 👇 and personally return 📳 My calls.

PREPARATION. IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPT I WISH TO SHARE WITH THOSE FACING FEDERAL PRISON

Facing prison becomes real as your client finds themselves remanded or self-surrender. Being prepared for the possibility that they could be placed in an Isolation Cell on their first day is a preventable surprise that can be anticipated with a “heads-up” explanation before their arrival.

With Comprehensive Preparation for the Presentence Interview, defendants find themselves prepared for most eventualities. As part of their preparation, several days before their surrender date, they could have sent themselves books to read. Yes, these paperback books may start coming from Amazon (or home), and will remove some of the initial stress and boredom should they find themselves, right after surrendering, facing 23 hours per day in an isolation cell. This also sets up their habit of reading by showing their Case Manager that they are working to reduce their Improve Themselves, which positively impacts their Reentry Plan in the long run.


STAKEHOLDERS.

These are the persons responsible for incrementally reducing a person’s ‘Criminogenic Needs’ over time. This starts with the Judge, followed by Case Managers and Unit Teams (in prison), who determine everything a person does, from their job requirement to where one sleeps. Further, they are responsible for recommending programs as a result of their assessment survey, available through The First Step Act (FSA).

  • FSA BENEFIT. This offers up to 365 days off a sentence, with the remaining Earned Time Credits (ETC) going to extra time in a Halfway House or possibly Home Confinement, which is still under BOP control.
  • Other benefits include Good Time Credit, Second Chance Act (28 C.F.R. § 570.21(a)), Compassionate Release, and Cares (for a limited time).

THE PRESENTENCE REPORT (PSR).

All the while, the Presentence Report proves its reputation as ‘The Inmates Bible.’ This is because the first STAKEHOLDER your client will meet may be their Case Manager, who will have already read it in order to learn a little about the person they will soon meet.

If comprehensive, the Probation Officer who previously Interviewed your client will have weaved into Their Probation Report the NARRATIVEREENTRY/ RELEASE PLAN, along with ANSWERS to the SPARC-13 ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS.

No Narrative in the Defendant’s Presentence Report?

  • Then, all the STAKEHOLDERS will know about your client – will be what’s written in the DOJ INDICTMENT. I think we can all agree that this is not the most flattering way to make a great first impression on the Judge. Then, once incarcerated, the Case Manager, the Unit Team, and the Warden control when your client will be returned to freedom; now may be biased – just not in your client’s favor.

After your arrival and you’re all settled in, you’re now tasked with locating the computers, but not for emailing your loved ones. Rather, you need to take and complete your Risk Assessment Survey. This is because the First Step Act Programs you take will only count for Earned Time Credit (ETC) if 1) they have been recommended by BOP staff and 2) after you have completed your SPARC-13 Assessment Survey.

  • To be prepared to take the Survey and speak with the Case Manager, you can also mail yourself a copy of the FSA Program Statement 5410.01_cn2  to review before meeting with your Case Manager several days before your arrival.

INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENT – REDUCING CRIMINOGENIC NEEDS.

PATTERN. Your Pattern Risk Assessment Score is another assessment score and is hardcoded. Approximately 50% still applies at your 1st assessment, which occurs within 30 days after arriving. See where you fit.

As your attorney and Probation Officer will know this by the time of the Presentence Interview, it’s good for the defendant to become familiar with the categories and address the issues that need addressing.


I. WORK – THE FSA IS MORE THAN JUST GOING TO CLASSES 

The only way I know of proving that you’ve,

  1. ...taken the classes,
  2. …demonstrated Incremental Improvements that your Case Managers need to see – (which I have learned from others),
  3. …is by daily writing (or documenting) everything constructive you do while in custody, which is by keeping a daily log or journal.
  4. WHY KEEP A DAILY LOG?

Consider this Insurance; similar to purchasing LifeHealth, or Auto: You hope you don’t need it – Until you do.

  • Next is Building this “New” Habit, practice – practice – practice. Then, repeating this skill daily until it becomes second nature. A great book on this: The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.

Why? What do you do if the BOP has No Record that you took that class – on that date – and you find this out 6 Months Later, what do, or can you do?

  • READ THIS, Great documentation-proof, ‘possibly,’ could have provided a more favorable outcome – Don’t Let This Be You: Legal Case: this person was denied their ETC (apparently without clear documented proof of ETC to support his position of 365, among other issues).

Ia. FIRST STEP ACT PROGRAMMING. Keep a running journal of everything Constructive that you are doing each day. This log will include the day, date, time, and your constructive activity – what you did and learned. Whether taking an FSA Class, reading a book that you could learn from, or other time well-spent activity, keep a record of what you learned and who taught that class (if this was FSA, include positive comments about the teacher). Then, at the end of the class, a brief note on lessons learned, how you will use them in daily life, and a brief thank you to your Case Manager for recommending that special program. This all goes towards building your Reentry/Release Plan.

 

If Your Case Manager, Counselor, and Warden, in their tenure, see hundreds to thousands of Adults In Custody (AIC, Director Peters’s new term) pass through their facility, how can you stand out in a good way? We all start off as a number – until we show them otherwise. If you’re looking to take advantage of the FSA and all it has to offer, no promises, but your efforts may result in an earlier release date.

Ib. NON-FICTION BOOKS – Remember What You Want, ‘TO GET HOME’ – start building this new habit. For as long as you will be in prison, pre-schedule books to be sent from Amazon (spread out among family and friends – on a schedule so that the responsibility and costs are spread out) to arrive every 2-3 weeks. Read daily and note the day, date, time, and specific “takeaways” that you have learned from each book by chapter, and watch your Release Plan continue to grow.

  • You still want OUT of The BOP – Right? Give credit to your Case Manager for what you have learned in your ‘Release Plan’. Now, they, too, look great in the eyes of their supervisors.

The books can be on any topic, you have the time, and possibly this could develop into a new career. Biographies of famous people, ArtArt HistorySciencePaintingLife SkillsHistoryFamous Women in HistoryGeologyreally anything you are interested in. If you’re unsure, go to my website. the books are at the bottom of this page, or get ideas from The New York Times, Forbs, Inc., – but buy from Amazon as the BOP guards are familiar with Amazon (and paperbacks are cheaper).

  • This is just an idea, a starting point – you may have an interest in Painting or Drawing, whatever it is, take this time and explore it; please don’t waste it on just TV. This is Temporary, and Eventually, you will be Released.
  • This is advice that I have learned from others who have developed a broader perspective. My wish for you continues to be PREPARATION.

Ic) You’re Educated With a Degree and Experience, Great – Create a Course

  • Plan a curriculum on a topic that you feel would be interesting.
  • Organize it for classes to meet 2-3 times per week for several months,
  • Then, run the idea by your case manager; maybe it could help those with their GED; who knows?
  • Once all parties agree, your case manager is happy, and your Reentry Plan grows – GREAT!
  • Let your Case Manager and Unit Team take the credit!
  • It’s just one more thing Working For You.

Id. Log every conversation you have with each BOP staff member by name, date, time, and topic; it’s for “just in case.” It can be an innocent conversation, but you will never know – until the day you need it, but if you forgot the day, date, and exact conversation – you’re out of luck.

Ie. Second Chance Pell Education Grant. Do you have your GED? Yes, Great! Do you have a College Education? The Department of Education intends to fully implement the legislative changes to allow eligible students’ college-in-prison programs to access Federal Pell Grants, beginning July 1, 2023. The Biden-Harris Administration has the following list of participating Colleges and Universities. Please check for Grant eligibility first.

II. THE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY PROGRAM (FRP). Should you have a court-ordered financial penalty to participate in the First Step Act, you must offer to participate in the Program; otherwise, you could be denied participation in FSA programs and/or early release benefits. If the Judge ordered that you could delay payments (Yes, still offer something to your Case Manager. It will help you in the long run.). If the Judge ordered, for example, $25 per quarter, to offer something more to your Case Manager will elicit a similar response.

Recommendations:

  1. Do not keep $1000s in your Commissary Account. Why? Because the DOJ one day would like nothing better than confiscating 75% of your commissary money.
  2. Offer reasonable payment options. If your commissary account takes in > $1000s per Month, offer to contribute $200 per Month to your FRP; if your account takes in $200-500 per Month, offer to contribute $25-75 per Month (or quarter, depending on your ability to pay), to your FRP.
  3. Refusing is not an option – unless you wish to serve your full sentence and possibly risk the DOJ getting their wish of confiscating 75% of everything in your commissary account.

RELEASE PLAN, INTERVIEW.

  • No Reentry/Release Plan 👉 Why should a Case Manager recommend you for the Second Chance Act? If you don’t appear to care about your future – which is how they will view it, why should your STAKEHOLDERS spend their extra time on you?
  • No Reentry/Release Plan 👉 Why should a Case Manager recommend you to a Residential Reentry Manager (RRM)?
  • No Reentry/Release Plan 👉 Why, should a Residential Reentry Manager (RRM) take a chance and offer you one of their beds when there is someone else applying with a Great Release Plan? If someone has taken the time to 1)write a Release/Reentry Plan that has reviewed their progress during their time in prison, 2)explain why they need and how they will use the time while filling one of the limited Halfway House beds, or while on Home Confinement, who would you choose?
  • Case Manager recommendations are important to Residential Reentry Managers (RRM), as they need to know that they’re bringing in a qualified person who can continue their reentry successfully back into the community.

REENTRY/RELEASE PLAN. Starting it before your Presentence Interview isn’t easy, so explain that you researched content for your Release Plan Online at the MN Dept. of Corrections and ‘The National Institute of Corrections Manual’, and then use their template to start your Reentry Plan Into The Community. Print it, and mail it to yourself so you have a baseline.

  • NEXT INTROSPECTION: Review your investigation, criminal charge, plea hearing, trial or guilty plea, presentence investigation, and sentencing process. You can start just by writing, “I’ve had a lot of time to think, and I didn’t realize how bad my decisions were and how much pain they inflicted on the victims I created as a result of my actions…” I your words…
  • With preparation and more entries, you will see that a better outcome will emerge as you continue developing your reentry/release plan. We can’t change the past — but you can impact your future.
  • It’s early in the process, so that you won’t have all the answers now, but you could add that you reviewed the Risk Assessment Programs available through the First Step Act, and you recognize that there is much for you to learn – because you have much to prove this to your victims, community, family, and yourself.

This article also appeared on LinkedIn


YOUR JUDGE ⚖️WILL ASK FOR YOUR PLAN TO NOT RETURN TO THEIR COURTROOM → 🕊️WHAT’S YOUR ANSWER?

Home Confinement Info Sheet

WHY A RELEASE PLAN?

“ARE YOU READY TO ANSWER YOUR JUDGES QUESTION?”
DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’LL SAY?

Release Planning should begin before your Presentence Interview if, for no other reason than at your Sentencing Hearing, your judge will ask you or want to know your plan to not return to their courtroom. In this video, I review why Release Planning should begin before your Presentence Interview if, for no other reason than at your Sentencing Hearing, your judge will ask you or want to know your plan to not return to their courtroom.

The Release Plan, Divided into ‘6’ Parts

Part I) Before your Presentence Interview (and is provided along with your Narrative to be woven into your Presentence Report), 


Part II) Before your Sentence Hearing (building and after giving more thought to your 1st Release Plan),


Part III) Once inside, here is where it grows – mostly by documenting your Personal Developmental Growth, which includes the FSA Programs and everything Constructive that you have been working on in areas of interest to you, including mentoring others or teaching classes.


Part IV) Before Release details what you will be doing once released. This can be started by following example forms developed by Rikers Island, the MN Dept. of Corrections – ‘The National Institute of Corrections Manual, or the Release Plan Prep Guide. All of this will, or should (as nothing is Guaranteed), make you appear a better candidate for a Halfway House. These beds are limited, and Residential Reentry Managers want to fill these beds with people who will reenter society successfully. Is this You? This video doesn’t cover everything, but I hope it provides some constructive insight.


Part V) After Release / Post-Incarceration Services

YOU ARE STILL UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE BOP 

  • For many in BOP custody until he/she completes his prison term (for sentences greater than six months).
  • You’re in a Residential Re-entry Center (halfway house) or working with the BOP’s Community Corrections Management.
  • If you’re eligible to be transferred to home confinement (the last six months or 10% of the sentence, whichever is less), your client will transition from the RRC or CSC with another set of rules and requirements.
  • Even after leaving BOP custody, he/she will start his supervised release period, which is often for three years.
  • Each of these is a different branch of the Justice Department, 
  • You Do Not Want To Get Disciplined or have any Infractions that Could Return You To Prison

Part VI) Supervised Release/Parole/Halfway House –

  • You think You’re Out/Done,
  • But You’re Still Under “Federal” Control,
  • This could be the Hard Part – No Mistakes – Don’t assume,
  • For Questions, Ask your Probation Officer or Residential Reentry Manager First and Often. Not hearing back is Not an OK To do what you want to do.
  • Some are harder to deal with if your charge is a State Charge – But Make This Temporary.
  • Supervised Release – Probation

Probation or Supervised Release is No Joke. Follow the rules, and all will be ok.  Probation Officers have huge caseloads; unfortunately, they are overworked and expect the worst. Be the exact opposite, and good things will happen.


Now, with a New Director of The BOP (Dir. Peters, there is reason for hope and optimism), The First Step Act, the Second Chance Act, and the Work You Do In Investing In Yourself Can Earn Your Way To Freedom. For more on your Mitigation steps, call me.


This is a document that will grow over time and will influence your STAKEHOLDERS.

WHO ARE ‘YOUR’ STAKEHOLDERS

Your Attorney • The Probation Officer Conducting Your PSI• The Prosecutor • Your Judge • BOP 1st) Designation Staff, 2nd) Your Case Manager, and 3rd) Unit Team • Residential Reentry Manager (RRM) • Probation Officer, • and Others You Have Yet To Meet

Call 240.888.7778 for a personal one-on-one call
to discuss your current issue or that of a loved one.

-Marc Blatstein


 

When writing your Narrative, Allocution, or Reentry Plan, read it through the Lens of YOUR STAKEHOLDERS: WHAT DO THEY WANT TO HEAR? Through their eyes, there are victims, and there was a crime, but without your narrative, all they have is the DOJ indictment of you – so you may appear like America’s “Most Wanted.”  Only you can change this.

It’s best started before your Presentence Interview and will continue to develop as you add to it during your stay in the BOP.


 

Writing Your Release Plan, Now Before Your Presentence Interview 

Attempting to write your Release Plan, you don’t need to have all the answers today! Start will the small parts (bites) that I have provided below. Like the rest of your plan, it will develop over time; I know because mine did. Remember: One bite at a time.

But, if you have a letter from someone willing to hire you when you are released based on your skills and character – that is a GREAT letter to include in your plan, your Presentence Report, and with your attorney’s Sentencing Memorandum at your Sentencing Hearing.


 

Your Reentry Plan addresses your STAKEHOLDERS

You must be Your Own Best Advocate – 

Your Judge: STAKEHOLDER. If your Narrative (with your Reentry Plan) is included in your Presentence Report, you now have your Judges attention because he/she, among other things, wants to know your plan to not re-offend.

  • What are you going to do?
  • In addition to expressing remorse for the victim(s), understanding their pain, suffering, and how it has impacted them, 
  • You have reviewed what your life brought you to this moment that caused you to do this – with no excuses. 
  • You have reviewed the FSA Risk Assessment Program Questions, which had you reflect on what you’ve done and read about the many available programs to learn from.

Your Unit Team, Case Managers, and Counselors are your STAKEHOLDERS. For all of your meetings, just like with your FSA Programs and Books that you are reading, document their name, date, time of day, and conversation topic to recall later. Consider it insurance.

  • Review the FSA Risk Assessment Program Questions (SPARC-13) and
    • Weave your answers into your plan before your Presentence Interview.
    • What you hope to learn from the programs and how you need to implement their lessons into your daily life, work, or family life –
    • Include something Positive about the teacher.
    • Praise the Case Manager who recommended you take these programs.
    • For both of these, your Case Manager may ask your opinion,

Your Case Manager, Counselor, and Warden, in their tenure, see’s hundreds to thousands of Adults In Custody (AIC, Director Peters’s new term) pass through their facility. How can you stand out in a good way? We all start off as a number – until we show them otherwise. If you’re looking to take advantage of the FSA and all it has to offer, no promises, but your efforts may result in an earlier release date.

If release plans are not required, then why do them – To reduce Your Time Incarcerated?

  • Without a Plan, why should your Case Manager and the BOP give you a reference to a Halfway House Residential Reentry Manager (RRM)
  • There are not enough halfway house beds in the country to house everyone who wants to use them.
    • Halfway House Residential Reentry Manager (RRM) wants to fill those beds with people who will use them to reenter their communities successfully.
  • Case Managers will Recommend you, which the Warden signs off, and your file then,
    • goes to the Residential Reentry Manager to determine who is best suited for their limited bed space, who needs that time, and who will succeed.
  • Residential Reentry Managers decide who can use the limited number of beds by evaluating your BOP file, including your PSR, Narrative, and release plan.
    • They’re also being judged, so they want to show success. Inmates writing release plans are a way that halfway house managers can make that judgment.

Start your plan before your PSIIt Can Include Parts of Your Narrative,

  • Once inside, give the credit for your plan to your Case Managers and their recommendations as they offered FSA Programs to you.
  • Offer that you researched for your Release Plan: National Institute of Corrections website.
    • This template covers Personal Identification, Housing, Transportation, Personal Needs, Employment, Recreation/Leisure Time, Chemical Dependency Treatment/Aftercare, and your Support System.
  • Write as you review your investigation, criminal charge, plea hearing, trial or guilty plea, presentence investigation, and sentencing process. You will see that preparation fulfilled as you develop a reentry/release plan to achieve a better outcome. 
  • QUOTING something like…: “Since my indictment and arrest, I had the time to think about everything I have done. Previously, I didn’t recognize how BAD my decisions were, But I realize it’s Not About Me. It’s about My Victims, What I did, and What I have to do – to make it right.
  • Referencing your PATTERN Score, address applicable points for either Men or Women.
  • If you learn you have a Detainer (hopefully before your Presentence Interview)
    • Last week, the BOP quietly issued a change notice to its Program Statement on applying for FSA credits.
      • Before sentencing (or as soon as possible), your attorney learns that there is a Detainer; when filing this form, with no response after 180 days, it goes away.

1) Followed With copies of your Social Security Card, Driver’s License (expired?), and Birth Certificate. Know where your originals are kept so you can get them, and where are they now if they were taken from you at your arrest?

2) Be Honest with how you fill out BOP forms and talk in prison. If you lie and it gets found out by your STAKEHOLDERS (Judge), you may have more significant problems. Don’t say you have a substance abuse problem – if you don’t. This can be held against you by the Judge or other STAKEHOLDERS.

  • Some of those you meet will be biased against you (try not to let it bother you, be polite)
  • Writing is good, But Showing That You Have Learned You’ve Done Is Wrong Is Where You Want To Be.
    • (The Anger Management Course)
    • DOCUMENTATION OF EVERYTHING YOU DO,
      • CLASSES YOU TAKE, BOOKS YOU READ, AND FSA PROGRAMS YOU HAVE ATTENDED;
      • Because even if your case managers forget to document your progress, at least your records are complete and
      • You CAN NOW VERIFY, AS IT IS IN ‘YOUR’ COMPLETE FILE

3) Who will be your Support Structure?

  • This includes those who care for you to ensure you don’t return to the judge’s courtroom. This can be family, friends, or others and can include a potential employer willing to rehire you following your release, all who have provided letters attesting to your character, and who are aware of your past criminal behavior.

4) Employment Opportunities?

  • Will you still be allowed to run your own business? Was your business part of your criminal arrest? If Yes – then-No.
  • It is possible, though, to work For Yourself With a great release plan – Yes,
    • Probation May let you work for yourself and travel.
      • Were you working for yourself before your arrest? Yes,
      • If working for yourself – was this job part of your criminal activity? If No, OK
      • What will you do–keep it separate from your criminal conviction?
    • Who’s the owner?
    • Does it need to be registered with the state, licensed, etc?
    • Be Organized: “While incarcerated, I want to plan to own my own business, and these are the steps I will need to take.”
    • Will you need employment? No, I’m retired but volunteer or care for A Relative.
    • How realistic are your employment opportunities? You’re a physician – at best, you’ll need to reapply to your board, get your CMEs, etc. DEA and Provider Numbers, Medicare and Medicaid, OPM, and HHS.

5) At this point, your Reentry Plan is much shorter than it will be at the end of your sentence.

6) The plan will changeKeep your Case Managers Updated on your REENTRY Plan

  • This is why I need either 1 year in a Halfway House (or Home Confinement) – here’s what I need to do as I prepare to get back on my feet.

7) After sentencing, especially if the Judge gives you a downward Departure, start thinking about your Reentry plan, add what you wish you had done differently, and add what the judge said at sentencing before you forget.

 

 

BY THE NUMBERS

  • If you have over 12 months of ETC, they could be applied to Halfway House or Home Confinement.
    • If You Have the Appropriate Resources and Reentry Plan
  • ETC in Halfway House: for example, if you have 11 months, the BOP may apply that to early release.
  • If you have 14 months ETC:
    • 2 Months in Halfway House
    • The 2nd Chance Act,
      • The 5 Factor Review: 8 mo. Halfway House, 6 mo. Home
  • Released to Home vs. Halfway House.
    • The BOP now sends inmates to the Halfway House, where they are evaluated for their plan.
      • It is up to the Halfway House to determine if the person meets the Eligibility & Appropriate criteria.
      • It is up to our REENTRY Plan to show why Home Confinement is needed.

HOME CONFINEMENT INFORMATION SHEET