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 paper documents, both medical and non-medical, for use by the probation/parole officers. It’s 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 the current electronic medical record (EMR) format model used by most physicians today. This in turn may lead to the inaccurate intake of the defendants medical records, resulting in inaccurate placement recommendations. Though the PSR has a criminal history section, 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. Further, there is no pathway in 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 reduce their recidivism.
Reentry preparation starts before placement
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 to create positive futures for themselves and their families? 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 reentering their communities.
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