For Attorneys

“It’s surprising how many otherwise competent attorneys punt at the sentencing hearing.” *

What federal judges look for at sentencing
  • Humanize your client.
  • Good elocution can cause a Judge to impose a lower sentence.
  • Tell us your client’s story, but don’t minimize the seriousness of what your client did.
  • Judge Rice said he will often ask a defendant what he/she is going to do upon release from prison to determine whether he/she is likely to reoffend.
  • Show your client’s strengths and weaknesses. If you can show that you are on the same page with the court as to the seriousness of the offense, the chances of having your other statements accepted will increase.
  • When asked which of the cases coming before them they find most challenging, judges agreed: predatory child sexual offenders who have harmed children and white-collar criminals who have harmed vulnerable people.
  • All judges agreed they would rather hear from your client during the sentencing hearing, unless you have new information not contained in your sentencing memorandum and other submissions
MUST READ: The Federal Lawyer (September 2017), by Alan Ellis

PPRS Prison Match™ may help *

  1. Reduce the time, expense and resources needed in preparing your client’s Presentence Report (providing probation officers with your client’s background content as they prepare their official PSR and followup PSI, and with which they’re able to provide both sentencing and possibly placement recommendations to the court).
  2. Prepare for the sentencing hearing. 2018 Federal Bureau of Prisons Program Fact Sheet.

The cost of researching these PSR-relevant variables can affect your firm’s bottom line:

  • Your Client’s Increased Security Level, from low to medium or high. Penitentiaries (USP) can also be associated with a few medium or high security facilities.
  • Public Safety Factor (PSF) may be used to reduce a security level before or at the sentencing hearing.
  • There are approximately 3,800 medications available on the BOP Formulary. Are your client’s medications available?
    • Then there is a non-formulary medication list that requires a multiple-step referral request process in order to get an approval or a refusal.
    • PPRS Prison Matchhas a comprehensive medication list that can save hours of research time and facilitate inclusion into your client’s PSR.
    • Including of non-formulary medications in your client’s PSR  may highlight the need for discussion at sentencing.
    • Keep in mind that there are certain medications that are simply not available.
  • Medical and Mental Healthcare is dispensed in the BOP through a CARE LEVEL I-IV Structure. Where would you look, and what amount of staff time is needed to research this issue? It is critical to determine how healthcare is dispensed to ensure that your client’s healthcare needs are met. Ensure this by documenting them in the PSR in preparation for the sentencing hearing.
  • Using the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder as an example, is your client able to function in general population with other inmates? Your client may be a candidate for the Skills Program, which is only available at two facilities (Coleman-Medium and Danbury-Low).
    • The Skills Program is part of the BOP’s National Programs which includes psychological counseling (available at a limited number of facilities).
    • After your research identifies where the services are located, determine if your client’s current security level conflicts with the program’s security availability. At this point it may be possible to request a reduction in their PSF if warranted. Depending on the outcome, a facility recommendation can then be included within their PSR and at the sentencing hearing.
  • To verify RDAP eligibility, note that drug/alcohol abuse also includes prescription medications along with medications available over the counter. According to the American Bar Association there must be a verifiable, documented pattern of substance abuse or dependence within the 12-month period preceding arrest.
  • Where appropriate, address the recidivism paradigm by matching your client to a facility that supports their interests in learning either an occupation or trade or pursuing higher education. This is accomplished in our Prison Match™ step 5.
  • Ensure that the content in the official PSR is accurate.
  • See if you can get the US Attorneys office to agree (or not argue against) your proposals.

Prison Match™, a Criminal Defense ‘PSR’ Case Management Software*

* (1) There is no guarantee implied or otherwise of final prison placement, medical care level placement, medication availability or program enrollment; once incarcerated results and placement may vary. As BOP policies change, a review of P5100.08 , or more current BOP policies are recommended. Extenuating client or BOP circumstances may also adversely affect the result.

*(2) In addition to the defense teams insight as to their clients background and defense strategy, PPRS Prison Match™ is meant solely to be used as an aide, as part of your sentencing and prison placement decision making process.