Inmate Ignorance Regarding the Presentence Investigation

By · Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Through my work as a long-term prisoner, I’ve interviewed hundreds of other prisoners. I write what I’ve learned from them with hopes of offering information to help other prisoners prepare for successful journeys through confinement. One step in the criminal justice process that I think incoming prisoners need to know about concerns the Presentence Investigation Report.

When I was coming into the prison system, back in 1987, I didn’t know anything about the criminal justice system. Instead of learning, I deferred to my attorney on all matters. The attorney who represented me told me that the judge who was going to sentence me likely had made his mind up with regard to how much time he was going to impose, and so the PSI was not all that relevant.

I will never know the level of importance my judge placed on the information contained in my PSI. Yet I do know that the PSI has played an essential role in my journey through more than 21 years of imprisonment. Prison administrators rely exclusively on the Presentence Investigation Report in making numerous decisions with regard to the inmate’s classification and program eligibility.

Not knowing the integral role the PSI plays through the prison journey, many inmates later regret the ways that they responded during the Presentence Investigation Report. In misguided efforts to influence the judge, many inmates provide answers that are only shades of the truth to their probation officers. Sometimes they lie. They do not understand the answers they provide to the probation officer’s questions can influence both the length of time they serve, and the conditions under which they serve their sentences.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.