Get Your Best Defense, The Goal – Serving Less Time


Self-Advocacy Is Work




Your Attorney and You working as a team – I) The gathering of records,


Your Attorney and You working as a team – II) Self-Advocacy, Your work, in writing your: NARRATIVE, ALLOCUTION, and REENTRY PLAN

Their expertise lies in,

  • In case law
  • Researching statutes
  • Assessing evidence
  • Undermine the prosecutor’s evidence
  • Producing evidence to support the defense
  • Not all attorneys have the time to exhaustively research your background – which I’ll address later.
  • But they are relying on you to provide them with 100% accurate information about the complaint and what happened, otherwise the only one who will suffer is you.
  • Yes, you likely may be terrified, but experienced attorneys are used to this.

Comprehensive Sentence Mitigation Strategy – Requires Work and Self-Advocacy

The Order of Importance

The Defendant

Attorney Family

Character Letters • FRP • Your Narrative • Allocution • Reentry Planning • Presentence Interview Preparation

PREPARATION Begins to reduce some of your fears, while starting to build back your confidence as you take back some control of your life. No matter where you are in the process, the earlier you start the better – but as a Wise man stated, it’s Never Too Early, or Too Late, to Start.

When you hear a rumor that the Feds are asking questions, or if you receive a target letter, – this is when PREPARATION becomes a familiar word. It’s OK to Panic, but – start. 


If family, friends, and lawyers tell you you’re paranoid or to relax – ignore all of them and start interviewing attorneys.

Then ask for,

  1. Several client references (regarding cases similar to yours), for you to call – as you say: I am sure “you have happy clients, even though we may wind up in the BOP,” next
  2. You’d like to see several sentencing memorandums (humor-me, please), also for cases like yours. If HIPPA comes up, agree, but reply, with ADOBE or a black marker it’s possible to block out all personal info. Here we are looking to see if they all look the same. If they do, NEXT.

Once you find an attorney that you feel comfortable with, discuss finances, and request that ‘we each hold each other accountable’, as/should/when the defense moves forward, this needs to be a “team” effort.

ATTORNEY PREPARATION REMINDER: No attorney can guarantee to you: 1) that they know the Judge – so don’t worry, or 2) I promise that you will get “X” days or years – so we don’t need to prepare your narrative (for example), and last 3) a Great AUSA – prosecutor doesn’t always convert to a great White-Collar Criminal Defense attorney – that’s why we advise asking questions, because they may be a Great Defense Attorney, but there is only one way to find out.

Before You’re IndictedIf You Recognize that, You Are Guilty, and are willing to Admit that to the Court, immediately conference with your attorney.

  • Your fees with your attorney will be much less and
  • Your charges with the Prosecutor may also be reduced.
  • And Possibly – Less Jail Time

Next, you and your lawyer decide:

  • Trial: if yes, ask the attorney what “%,” or how many cases have they won in federal court, as the feds have a 98% conviction rate. If you are still confident, then soldier on, but,
    • if you lose, then negotiate – you agree not to appeal, and possibly the sentence won’t be as harsh, or
  • You’ve chosen to Plea


Judge Scola noted “criminal defense attorneys should emulate their death penalty colleagues and advised”;

  • Don’t wait to think about sentencing advocacy.”
  • In other words, since 99 percent of one’s federal criminal clients will be facing sentencing, start preparing the case for sentencing early on.”

The Plea Hearing – Guilty

Comprehensive Sentence Mitigation Strategy – Requires Work and Self-Advocacy

The Order of Importance

The Defendant

Attorney Family

Presentence Interview PreparationPersonal Narrative • FRP • Character Letters • Allocution • Reentry Planning

Your Presentence Interview (PSI), which the Probation Officer, a representative of the court, conducts. They then investigate you and draft an official Presentence Report for the court along with providing sentencing recommendations to the judge.

The Following Is Included in Your Presentence Report (AKA: The Inmates Bible) 

From your Medical Records in your Presentence Report, these may be of significance to your life in the BOP.

Your Medical and Mental Healthcare Records – Documented

  • Bottom Bunk: Past medical history of Tinnitus, vertigo, or back, hip, or shoulder problems.
  • Diabetic Soft Shoes, Sneakers Instead of Rigid Institutional Boots: Past medical history of a torn Achilles heel, knee, or hip issues
  • Being of a certain age / Having weight or having a Hernia issue: could result in getting passes of “no standing for prolonged periods” and “no lifting over 15 pounds,” helping you escape some of the undesired work assignments.
  • Medical idles,” which get you out of everything, are also available, either short or long-term, for various ongoing ailments (ranging from a bad hip to PTSD).
  • Other records: Educational, military, character, community service, work references, original birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s license, etc., and you get the picture.
  • RDAP: usage within 12 months of arrest; alcohol, prescription, or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and illegal drugs. Social usage may not be considered.


The Power of Personal Narrative | J. Christian Jensen | From a Ted Talk, Why your narrative is so critical in telling your story. This Ted Talk is a guide on how to build yours, by following the points based on: Your Personal Narrative, below.



Your Narrative will undergo a dozen or so rewrites until it is distilled into its final version, for which you accept responsibility. It’s your story, a Unique and Honest version of the events that resulted in your arrest.

Currently, the DOJ has been controlling your Narrative through their release of your Indictment to the press. Do you agree with all of it? Is it a glowing overview of your recollection of events?

No – this is why it is so important for you to write your own Personal Narrative. As you tell your story, current and future STAKEHOLDERS, family, friends, and colleagues will now have your Narrative to counter the one set by The DOJ.

The Narrative Video – B-Roll Footage, is 4-6 minutes, and the ideal length for a sentencing video (10 min tops). 

Your Narrative addresses your STAKEHOLDERS, those responsible for your future, (but who or what are STAKEHOLDERS?)

  1. Your Defense Attorney – they know nothing about your past at this point, Your Narrative must change that.
  2. Probation Officer – they are responsible for writing your Presentence Report and recommending your sentence to the Judge. All they know is the story that the DOJ has released to the press as their Narrative of you through Your INDICTMENT, and what the prosecutor has told them. Is That An Important Enough Reason?
  3. The Prosecutor – their job has one job, to get the judge to convict.
  4. Your Judge has to take all this in – in Only One Meeting With You. But they have years of experience in meeting defendants just like you who are looking for leniency.
    • Those years of experience allow them to know the truth when they hear it, as well as BS…
    • Your Narrative (if it made it into your Presentence Report, with your Reentry Plan) opened their curiosity just enough to speak with you, and your Allocution may cause the judge to change a previously considered sentence.
  5. Your BOP Case Manager and Unit Team – will determine how smooth a transition you will have, getting into FSA Programming, and out of the BOP and into RRC or Halfway Houses, Home Confinement, and 2nd Chance Act.

Multiple Judges Want To Hear From You, Not Your Attorney

Your Personal Narrative has been provided to the Judge In Your PSR


  • 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 – what have you learned?
  • 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?
  • Show thoughtful actionable plans to emerge successfully.
  • Helps readers empathize with the defendant as an individual – not as a felon 
  • What you have learned,
  • Why you’re asking for leniency and
  • Why you’ll never be back to this or any courtroom.

The Sentencing Guidelines provide judges with discretion and factors that may be relevant for a lower sentence:

  • Community contributions
  • Familial circumstance
  • Financial circumstances
  • Military service
  • Motivations
  • Physical condition
  • Physique
  • Recompense
  • Remorse
  • Substance abuse Treatment
  • The mental state of mind

There is a history of case law that shows judges do in fact,

  • depart downward from guideline recommendations.
  • In every one of those downward departures,
  • someone has made a compelling,
    • a persuasive argument that the government vehemently opposed.
  • The Supreme Court has mandated that judges must consider
    • all mitigating factors that are relevant to any purpose of sentencing.
    • But if the defendant doesn’t raise those mitigating arguments, then the judge will not consider them.


‘Character’ Letters that include the writers are informed about the person’s legal challenges.

  • How long do they know you, what do they think about you?
    • Kind, honest, dependable, community volunteer
  • It could come from a,
    • Family member, employer, religious leader, teacher, neighbor, colleague, or another person or group who has known you for a long time.
    • If it is an employer that knows of your legal trouble and is willing to hire you after you’re released – if it’s possible, that is a Great Letter.
  • They should humanize you
  • Summarizing: how long does the person know the defendant?
    • Does not make excuses for the defendant.
    • Does not offer thoughts on sentencing.
    • The writer knows that you have accepted full responsibility.
    • The writer knows you want to make things right.
    • Examples of the defendant’s good deeds as a neighbor or volunteer in the community. 
  • Start asking, ASAP
    • At least 10, collect them, and when you have them all, then email them to your attorney at one time.




(As you read the views of these Judges, you will see that our thoughts that You, through Your Narrative and Allocution will have a greater effect than your Attorney could ever have, on Any and All Judges,)

Judge Xinis dislikes boilerplate citations.

  • It’s far better to tell me why a variance is justified.
  • ” She wants a lawyer to start with the offense and the defendant right up front. “
  • The good lawyers give me facts tied to the 3553(a) factors. Also,
    • they tell me why a variance is justified.
  • If the guidelines are over-punish, tell me why.
    • Tell me about the legislative history or the U.S. Sentencing Commission history behind the guidelines, if it exists.
  • Tell me why a guideline sentence would promote disrespect for the law in the eyes of the community.”
  • “I like to ask a lot of questions in court.
  • I welcome live character witnesses.
    • I will also ask a character witness to address the defendant directly.”
  • Judge Xinis also likes live testimony from mental health professionals.
    • “I like to engage them on points in their report that I don’t agree with or have questions about.”

Judge Scola notes

  • It is the first opportunity for lawyers to make a positive impression on him.
  • “I am very impressed with lawyers who show legal advocacy in their presentence memorandum on disputed guideline issues.
  • I appreciate lawyers who give me everything I need well in advance of the hearing.”
  • One of his pet peeves is lawyers who do not submit a memorandum or submit them on the eve of sentencing, as well as lawyers who file poorly prepared ones.
  • Judge Scola gets annoyed with
    • lawyers who don’t prep their client or
    • their character witnesses prior to the hearing, and
    • with lawyers who fail to interrupt their clients who, during allocution, start digging a hole for themselves.

Judge Mehta

  • agrees with most other judges that failure to submit a sentencing memorandum is a missed opportunity.
  • “It may be the only time for legal advocacy.
  • Tell me why your client did what he did.
  • Show me that he is not necessarily who he was at the time of the offense.
  • What steps have been taken to rehabilitate him or herself?
  • Show me that he is not going to do it again.”
  • For example, people who have successfully battled substance abuse addiction, show Judge Mehta their genuine strength of character and that they are less likely to re-offend.


  • see value in live testimony, including bringing the mental health experts
  • invite data and statistics on sentences imposed in similar cases

Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington emphasized that unwarranted sentencing disparity is specifically listed as a sentencing factor in 18 U.S.C. §3553(a)(6): “the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.”

Comprehensive Sentence Mitigation Strategy – Requires Work That “You” Choose To Do – Advocating For Yourself 

The Order of Importance


Attorney Family

Allocution • Character Letters • Reentry Planning • Personal Narrative • Surrender PreparationFinancial Responsibility Program (FRP)

It’s important that you write and explain your own story or narrative and allocution. Include:

Reentry Plan starts now and is an evolving journal/document that you will constantly ad to:

  • A brief overview of each FSA (EBRR and PA) program that I took, what I learned, and how I could apply what I learned after release.
  • A Brief book report on each book that I have read, why I chose the author, what I learned, and how I could use that knowledge after release.
  • A Link to my website blog that has been kept up to date.
  • Copies of Character reference Letters
  • Copies of my Social security card, Health Ins, Driver’s License,


Allocution is the first time the Judge and you will meet – make it a sincere 1st impression.

For some Judges like Mark Bennett,  a discussion might be more useful, but his basic principles of allocution include:

    • A sincere demeanor
    • A discussion of what “taking full responsibility” actually means to the defendant;
    • An acknowledgment that there are victims, (e.g., even when the PSR indicates “no identifiable victim,” as it does in most drug cases);
    • A more impressive allocution details how the defendant’s criminal conduct actually affected the victims.
    • An expression of genuine remorse;
    • A plan to use prison or probation time in a productive manner;
    • A discussion of why the defendant wants to change his or her criminal behavior; and, perhaps most importantly, information that helps humanize the defendant and the defendant’s role in the crime.
  • Tell their story, but don’t minimize the seriousness of what your client did.
  • Judges will sometimes ask a defendant what he/she will do upon release to reduce their need to re-offend.
  • Show his/her 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. 
  • Judges would rather hear from your client during their sentencing hearing unless you have new information not contained in your sentencing memorandum and/or other submissions.” 

Reentry Plan

  • I have touched on your Release-Reentry Plan previously, now
  • It is important to read and understand the SPARC 13 Assessment Questions and weave your answers into Your Reentry Plan, which is going to be read by your Judge and Case Manager.
    • Your answers will demonstrate that you want to make positive changes in your life and that you came prepared as you have read the FSA Risk Needs Assessment.

What cases do judges find most challenging:

Predatory child sex offenders who have harmed children, and 

White-collar criminals have hurt vulnerable people.





I have provided you and your legal team with a personalized, court-ready BOP Placement Packet that supports your reasons for the request, with the appropriate documentation; Medical Care, First Step Act Programming, or other pertinent issues. (Example – Alderson)

You now have completed your Sentencing Hearing.

Your Narrative and Allocution have taken 50 – 150 hours to prepare, and we’ve all understood that Nothing Is Guaranteed. Whether or not the Judge took your efforts of introspection into account, good has come from this.

First, just completing this has been a cathartic experience that has begun to give you back some control of your life. As your Narrative is in your Presentence Report (if not, there are other ways to include it in your Reentry Planning while you are in the BOP).

Its next impact will be with your FRP included in your Reentry Plan, as your Case Manager and Unit Team begin to interact with you. Having this, it is more likely that you will be in the top 1% of all the inmates as you proceed toward release.


Reentry Plan

Your Reentry Plan is an evolving document, that grows over time and will influence your STAKEHOLDERS. You will start writing it before your Presentence Interview (and yes there’s a lot going on) – consider this the final chapter of Your Narrative, and, it will continue to grow over time, through your efforts. Your Case Manage and Unit Team (significant STAKEHOLDERS)
1st) Starts with copies of your Social Security Card, Driver’s License (expired?), and Birth Certificate, along with identifying where the originals are located.
2nd) Being Honest with how you discuss your personal issues over the phone, and fill out BOP forms as they are government legal documents.
3rd) Keep up to date on your daily journal documentation for your records as this will create a smoother transition on your journey. This includes a description in writing regarding your FSA Programs with commentary on the teachers, book summaries of what you have read and learned, and summaries of all conversations that you have with BOP staff, by Name, Date, Time, and Topic.
4th) List your Support Structure after release.
5th) Employment Opportunities?
6th) Only provide ‘Updates’ to your case managers at each meeting.

Surrender Preparation

  • Make a list of books you’d like to read – START SENDING (2 at a time) TWO DAYS BEFORE YOU ARRIVE,
    • With the amount of COVID and Influenza, should you test positive, you may be in quarantine (Isolation) for several weeks. You will be bored so you might as well read 24/7/365.
    • You can check the, COVID Their Modified Operation Levels
      • They are rated 1-3, with 3 being the highest. Then follow the link to the Individual Facility, where there is a list of all the prisons. There you will see the restrictions that the prison you a designated to, is under.
  • Pre-Set a schedule for each friend and family member to send you the books – it’s cheaper for all.
    • Developing a new habit will take time and effort, but we all fall into routines eventually.
  • Getting too many books at once could get you in trouble
    • Ask family & friends to each send the books from the list, 2 books at a time.

Softback (best and cheaper) – from Amazon, Softback – can also be from home

    1. Marco Polo’s “Travels”,
    2. The Gift, Edith Eva Eger
    3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
    4. Nelson Mandela’s Autobiography
    5. How to Cook a Wolf, by F.K. Fisher
    6. Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
    7. The Power of Habit: by Charles Duhigg
    8. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert T. Kiyosaki
    9. The Three Laws of Performance, By Steve Zaffron
    10. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”
    11. The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama
    12. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: STEPHEN R COVEY
    13. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
    14. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini
    15. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis
    16. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou’s Autobiography), 
    17. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond
    18. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-40, by William Manchester
    19. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell
    20. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen
    21. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
    22. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, by Robert M. Pirsig
    23. Working: People Talk about What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, by Studs Terkel

                … these are all great places to start and should continue throughout your stay.

Blank journals, diaries, address books, and daily planners, are not authorized for receipt.

So, order from amazon: soft-backed lined journals that have inspirations (or religious writing or anything on each page), so the BOP will let them through 

In The BOP

When you have your 1st meeting with your Case Manager or Unit Team in the BOP, and if time allows 1) request to take the Assessment Survey (Sparc-13) for the FSA as you learned that it could help you, and 2) if you have restitution, and the judge did not order the BOP to “Not” make you pay, offer to make reasonable quarterly payments. It will make you look good! If you refuse to bay, you may not get full Good Time Credit, as well as Programming possible restriction from early release.

Once you have taken the survey, your case manager will begin to recommend programs for you – take them all and say thank you. It does not matter what they are, if you take 1 year’s worth of FSA Credits, it could equal 6 months off your sentence.


Document your Book Reports and FSA Risk Assessment Programming (SPARC-13) daily, and how they’ve helped you – and that your teacher was great that day.

  • Documenting short paragraphs about the books you’ve read, and how they’ve shaped your outlook, why you picked the author, how you will use what you have learned after release
  • Your reentry plan will start to grow over time
  • Possibly someone offered you a job, make 2 copies (for you and your case manager)
  • Case managers are looking for incremental improvements
  • Includes your character letters, copies of your social security card, driver’s license, and health ins. (if current), all into your journaling.

The Purpose of All OF This Is to Come Home Prepared to Start the Next Phase of Your Life

 So, Continue With Your Planning

Financial Responsibility Plan (FRP). If you have any fine or restitution, congress and the BOP want participation, otherwise, this could hinder your participation in FSA Programs and early release efforts.


  • It may help if you could ask the judge to write into the order, that the defendant is not responsible for the Financial Responsibility Plan until after they are released from the BOP
  • Even if the Judge does order that payments can be delayed, thus bypassing the FRP, we still recommend offering at least minimal payments be made per quarter and DEFINITELY DO NO KEEP MULTI THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN YOUR COMMISSARY ACCOUNT.
  • What I am hearing now is (12/2022), that some judges are including FRP quarterly payments in their orders.
  • As of 2/2023, it is possible that the BOP may be expecting a significantly larger contribution, so our recommendation is not to keep a large amount of money in your commissary accounts. I don’t think anybody at this time knows for sure.

  • 1/10/2023 The new rule published in the federal register Tuesday would automatically attach 75% of all sums of money confiscated under the FRP, and direct it toward the victim’s restitution. The program would be voluntary, but prisoners would have to participate in order to get credit under the First Step Act for early release from prison or into a community facility. 
    • Otherwise, once in The BOP, your Case Manager may not have that information and feel obligated to still take those funds from your account. Remember they are just staff doing their jobs – putting the square object into the square whole.


PRE-SURRENDER PLAN, Preparation Before your 1st Day

Leading up to the day of sentencing, you have gone through AN Investigation, criminal charge(s), either a trial or guilty plea, your presentence interview, and the sentencing process.

This could all could have lasted months to years before you finally appear at your sentencing hearing. If a significant amount of time has elapsed, the judge will likely want to speak with you, and during your Allocution will want to know what you have done with your time. Hopefully, no matter your previous life, you have been volunteering, delivering pizza, or doing some kind of work, especially if you have restitution.

  1. Document the Journey [IN A NOTEBOOK PAPERBACK JOURNAL] – how will you create steps for early release with the First Step Act (FSA), judges now have an opportunity to consider compassionate release.
    • Document the journal, email it home as a memoir, and it could help you towards early release.
    • This also shows the incremental progress you have made, which may persuade a judge why you’re worthy of compassionate release.
    • It will show how you worked to reconcile with society,
    • Your story may also motivate others to want to reach their highest potential.
    • It will improve your reputation in the eyes of your Stakeholders.
    • It will help ease your transition back into society.
  2. Primary Point of Contact and Power of Attorney – spouse, a parent, a best friend, or a lawyer in case things don’t go right, the attorney should have confirmed that the court’s intake orders have arrived before you do.
  3. Develop a Personal Communication Plan – everything has “specific procedures”.
    • Send and receive letters through the regular postal service,
    • Use a modified telephone system,
    • Understand the modified email system,
    • Coordinate visits with people
  4. The ‘Johari Window’ Quadrant Guide – used in Making Tough Decisions
  5. Plan Your Release,  Write and Implement Your Release Plan 
    • How can I use what I’ve learned inside, and use it to bring value to others outside?
    • How can I prepare myself for a world so different than what I remembered?
    • Where would I get resources to start my life?
    • How much money would I need to settle in society after I got out?
    • What complications would a probation officer put on me when I got out?
  6. Financial Planning
    • Banks and brokerage houses have been known to “close accounts”, making families move them for fraud-related crimes, within 30 days more or less to do so.
    • Opening accounts at a variety of banks (big and small) as well as having options where to place your investments before your leave for prison will save all a lot of family and financial pain later on.
    • Definitely, provide Power of Attorney to someone you trust.
    • Commissary. In prison, you can spend 300 – 800/ month, I spent ~ $325/ month.
      1. If you have a court-ordered financial penalty, you will need to participate in the BOPs Financial Responsibility Plan, allocating funds for that.
      2. Money can be sent via Western Union, Money Gram, or to the BOP Lock Box
      3. Sample Commissary List

Arrive Early – What To Bring

  1. Basic wedding band(under $100.00), Bible.
  1. Prescriptions for medications (3-4 weeks recommended, at worst they are thrown out, at best they are available for your use, kept at the BOP Pharmacy). When surrendering on weekends or holidays the BOP may allow these to be used if not available from their onsite pharmacy. 
  1. Prescriptions for medical devices, and glasses (that are not made with metal).
  1. ID: Copies of birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, and social security card.
  1. Cash;$320 ($370 in November and December), then use either Money Gram or Western Union (both have service fees) for monthly deposits. Some of what you will need to buy on day 1; are sneakers, underwater, and personal care items – see sample commissary list.
  1. IN AN ENVELOPE, LABELED: LEGAL PAPERS, are your Legal papers, then typed on the back of one of them your List of personal names (including phone numbers, email, and addresses).
  1. If you have an extensive medical history, these papers are in a separate envelope titled: LEGAL PAPERS
  1. Your clothes will be mailed back to your legal residence.
  1. You may be going in during the COVID/Flu season if you’re vaccinated – bring your verification card, but expect to be in quarantine for several days – weeks (and very bored ), so, have your book list scheduled to start being mailed to you from Amazon (2 paperback books at a time, starting 3-5 days before you get there), then continuing until you are tentatively scheduled to leave.







I) DAY ONE: YOU’RE ELIGIBLE FOR 15% Good Time, just don’t get any infractions.

II) RDAP – Up To 1 Year Reduction: AT YOUR PRESENTENCE INTERVIEW, IF YOU HAVE A SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUE WITHIN THE 12 MONTHS PRIOR TO YOUR ARREST – DOCUMENTED, YOU QUALIFY It can Be alcohol, OTC meds, drugs, legal or illegal. Social use of these substances is not considered abuse.

  • 24-30 mo. Sentence = 6 months off
  • 31-36 mo. Sentence = 9 months off
  • 36+ mo. = 12 months off

III) 2nd Chance Act Extends Halfway House Time

  • If your sentence is > 60 mo. (5 yrs.) = last 6 mo. on home confinement
  • If your sentence is < 60 mo. (5 yrs.) = last 10% on home confinement
  • “Inmates may be designated to community confinement as a condition of pre-release custody and Programming during their final months not to exceed twelve months.” 28 C.F.R. § 570.21(a).
  • BOP staff must review inmates for RRC placement 17-19 months before their projected release date, and inmates are to be individually considered using the five factors listed in §3621(b).
  • Elderly Home Detention through the First Step Act: Rare to Get Program availability at all BOP facilities.
    • The qualifying age of 60+ years and You can serve that last part at Home
    • you must have served two-thirds of the sentence must be served to be eligible.
    • the offender must be serving a term of imprisonment other than life imprisonment based on a conviction for an offense or offenses that
      • the offender must not have been convicted in the past of any Federal or State crime of violence, sex offense, or other offense enumerated in the statute.
      • the offender must not have escaped or attempted to escape from a BOP institution.
    • the BOP must determine that the release of the offender to home detention will result in a substantial net reduction of costs to the federal government, and
    • the BOP must determine that the offender poses no substantial risk of engaging in criminal conduct or of endangering any person if released to home detention.

IV) FSA: 1 year of programming = 6 months off

         2 years = 12 months off, Max., more can be applied to ______________

Your Attorneys 9 Steps – Before Your Presentence Interview (PSI):

Your legal team introduces themselves to your Probation Officer(PO).

  • Their goal is to learn the final “dictation date” (or the date by which the P.O. must complete their first draft of the official Presentence Report (PSR)).
  • First contact with Probation, give them Your opinion on the Sentencing Guidelines.
  • Find out the likes and dislikes of your judge, (ask the local Federal Defender).
  • If there is a mental health defense, have the treating physician at the hearing, not just the “doctor for hire.”
  • Ask the prosecutor for a referral if you are looking for a medical expert witness. That’s right.
  • Too many Character letters, just use them as attachments in the Sentencing Memorandum.
  • In the Memorandum, highlight a single case, attach the others, and that is what is handed in.

This gives the legal team a timeline to work with:
1. A date that the forms must be completed,
2. A list of the documents that the PO requested,
3. The date for the Presentence Interview (PSI), with
4. The PO’s final “PSR dictation date,” provides the time for your legal team to define their defense strategy,

  • …to consider, what was their client’s behavior, and role in the offense,
  • …are there any grounds for relief from the Guidelines?
  • …to start framing reasons as to “why,” this prison placement request is being made (e.g., medical, programming, etc.).

5. The attorney could build an introductory relationship to understand what the officer already knows, which hopefully is not a lot!

  • This offers the opportunity to explain your position, as the PO was not at trial, and therefore has not yet formed an opinion.
  • Also, they likely have not yet spoken with the prosecutor, therefore they still may have an open mind.
  • If not, and 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 can clearly make their case and position with a personal meeting.
  • Meanwhile, you have begun writing your personal narrative which will undergo a dozen or so rewrites until it is distilled into its final version which you accept responsibility. It’s your story, a Unique and Honest version of the events that resulted in your arrest.
  • The goal is for your Personal Narrative to be included in your Presentence Report. Then be ready should the Judge wish to speak with you at the Sentencing Hearing, and answer his/her questions, from the heart – honestly – Your Allocution

6. A little extra effort goes a long way when working with the probation officer.

    • Consider presenting your entire view of the case, clearly in a letter to the PO, as soon as possible.
    • If you feel the PO is receptive to a variance, this may be key to convincing the court to consider a sentence below the guideline range.
    • As Probation Officers are very busy, doing their best, and never have enough timethey may appreciate your efforts in easing that portion of their workload,
    • Remember, that a little bit of effort, is appreciated.

7. It is helpful to have the Probation Officer and Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) buy into your client’s behavior and role in the offense, before requesting relief from the Guidelines, but again, before the dictation date.

8. At the same time, provide the court with sentences that other judges have imposed in cases like yours, highlighting the relevant case law that supports your sentencing position, making it simpler for the judge to find clearly.

  • Over-crowding and staff shortages, if applicable, could affect your client’s access to their Programming Needs or other BOP Services that may be required.
  •  Another avenue: 18 U.S.C. §3553(a)(2)(D)requires a sentencing court to consider the care needed for a client’s medical condition, which may support the cost-related (home confinement) argument.
    • This is most apparent in cases of inmates/patients, properly diagnosed as being Long-Haulers or having Post-COVID,
      • Due to this, no prison, or jail mission is prepared to provide this type of 24/7/365 care.
      • 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).

9, The sentencing memorandum,

  • Corroborate the issue 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.

Practice role-playing the Memorandum and Allocution with your attorney – is very helpful.

Is your client a Veteran?

If possible, connect your client with a facility that caters to veterans.

Catholic University Law Review; “Dog Training Programs support inmate rehabilitation”.

Other Military prisons with service dog training programs

  • NAVCONBRIG Miramar (aka Joint Regional Correctional Facility Southwest)
  • NW Joint Regional Correctional Facility Ft. Lewis Washington
  • Military Prison at Fort Leavenworth
  • Once their training is complete, these dogs are placed with veterans in the community who have:

If You Suspect You’re The Target of a Federal Investigation | Before The Presentence Interview (PSI) | After The PSI – But Before The Sentencing Hearing | After Sentencing or You’re Already Incarcerated | There Are Still Things We Can Do

For a consultation without any obligations on your part, Dr. Blatstein is easy to reach and returns all of his calls – personally: 240.888.7778, or by email.

We are not Attorneys, you need legal representation.

The responsibility for a client’s mental and physical health should be safeguarded in order to protect them from themselves and others while providing a safe environment for the duration of their incarceration. These are recommendations only, and the responsibility of the defense, court, and BOP.

National Medical and Mental Health Programs, 2017 (Now FSA)

Also found on Dr. Blatstein’s LinkedIn