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

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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.

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