Prisonology interviews Jack Donson, Bureau of Prisons Case Manager - Retired, on the final report submitted by U.S. Probation to the judge for consideration at sentencing.
After pleading guilty or a conviction, a U.S. Probation Officer conducts a Presentence Investigation (PSI) and submits a report to the court prior to sentencing. The resultant report is the Presentence Report (PSR) and is a influential document used by the judge to determine a prison term. The report is also subsequently used by the Bureau of Prisons to determine a prison designation, healthcare needs and programming necessary for the defendant. The PSR is one of the most influential documents that follows the defendant through the entire criminal justice system.
Try to have a point of contact at your attorney’s office to let you know immediately when the Presentence Report is received.
Once you receive the Presentence Report, read it thoroughly for errors and omissions.
There is a very small window, (usually 10 days) when items in the report can be corrected so turn those corrections around quickly.
If you provided information on substance or alcohol abuse, and want to be in the RDAP program, make sure it is documented correctly in the PSR.
You are your best advocate so make sure the PSR is as complete as possible.
Have someone close to you, a family member or very close friend, read the PSR in order to look for errors and omissions. Please note that there may be very sensitive information contained in this report (medical, family history, etc.) that you may not want to share with just anyone.
Obtain any missing documentation or support information that is still outstanding in the PSR. If information is incomplete, it may cause issues once in prison (proof of high school education is one example).
Reviewing and correcting the report can be time consuming, so make sure you clear your schedule.
Some errors to watch for include, education level, drug history, citizenship, and wrong home address.
In reviewing, think about how this report answers questions related a) where you should be incarcerated, b) the security level you should be at, c) the type of medical care you need, and d) the types of programs you want to participate in (e.g. RDAP).
K.W. (Inmate) Presentence Report
"When I first read my PSR I was pretty shocked. They had me looking like this BIG-TIME cartel leading DRUG SMUGGLER, but I guess in the government's eyes I was. There were errors in mine, like the spelling of my brothers name. Now if they would have left his name wrong it would have been hard to get him into visitation when I first got to the prison. What I suggest people look at on here is the guideline range. They will have a low end and high end guideline range on this report. Make sure the low end is the amount of time you think you are looking at. Its very accurate to what the judge will be sentencing you to depending on your charge and criminal history, usually they give the lower in of the guideline range on this report, but not ALWAYS."
G.B. (Inmate) Presentence Report
"I was waiting to get my pre-sentence report to see what my sentencing guidelines would be. Probation is supposed to determine the numbers independently from the prosecution, but I didn't think it really worked that way in my case. The prosecution basically hand feeds probation everything (at least in New Jersey). When I read my PSR I noticed a lot of things were wrong or taken out of context. The way the facts were presented were misleading to anyone who read it.
When I told my lawyer about this, he said he would put in objections to the report, but I shouldn't have much hope that the facts would be corrected. I didn't understand why they couldn't tell the truth about what happened. Much of the report was misleading. The judge was going to read this and get a feel about what I did and sentence me. This was my life in the balance and it seemed like the Government was filming a reality TV show and wanted the stretch the truth as far as it could go to get ratings. In the end, very few errors were corrected."