My Contact With the Probation Officer Who Prepared My PSI

By · Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I was locked in the Pierce County Jail when a guard called me out from my cell to meet with the probation officer. I had been arrested in August of 1987 for charges related to the distribution of cocaine, and I was held pending the outcome of my case. After a jury convicted me, the probation officer showed up unannounced to conduct a presentence investigation.

Upon introducing himself, the probation officer explained the purpose of his visit. I participated in the PSI more than 21 years ago, so I don’t remember the exact sequence of events. I presume that before the probation officer asked me any questions, he likely recited my Miranda rights that gave me the option of remaining silent.

I spent a few hours with the probation officer and cooperated fully. A jury had convicted me and I was then convinced that I had made a disastrous choice with regard to my trial strategy. I had fallen under the influence of my unscrupulous attorney who had convinced me that with the right amount of money I could “win” my case. I should have accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty.

Because of my fragile state of mind, I eagerly responded to the probation officer’s questions. Somehow, speaking honestly about my crimes and my level of culpability in organizing the scheme to distribute cocaine felt therapeutic. Other defendants told me that they were concerned about the way that their responses would influence appeals or their standing before the court. Such perceptions persuaded those defendants to lie or provide less than truthful answers.

The presentence investigation is an important part of the criminal justice process. It can influence both the sentence received as well as the prison adjustment. I urge defendants to learn as much about the process as possible before they meet with the probation officer.

Be Sociable, Share!

3 Responses to “My Contact With the Probation Officer Who Prepared My PSI”

  1. Maria Iniguez says:

    QUESTION FOR MICHAEL SANTOS FROM A STUDENT AT CSULB DR. TORRES CORRECTIONS CLASS: As a Criminal Justice undergrad I have learned that our system is based mainly on discretion. For instance, if a judge is liberal he will most likely post a lighter sentence and would emphasize on rehabilitation rather than punishment on the other hand if he/she is a conservative then the sentence will be much longer and punitive. There are many people who commit serious offenses yet they are out on parole or serving probation. My question to you is… Do you believe the sentence given to you was reasonable for the type of crime you committed? and What information about you would you have liked for your PSI to have in order for you sentence to be lighter?

  2. Hi Maria,

    Michael responded to your questions here:

    Best wishes,
    Carole Santos

  3. Eddie B. says:

    Hello Mr. Santos,

    My name is Eddie and I am currently taking a corrections class with Sam Torres at CSULB. Before I ask my questions, I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your life to respond.

    You mentioned in this article that you should have accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty; however, your lawyer had you convinced that with the right amount of money you could win your case. It sounds like you had a chance to plea bargain. My question is: if you would have pleaded guilty, would your sentence have been a lot less severe than the one you received, or just a little less severe?

    You also mentioned that you participated in the PSI more than 21 years ago. As a criminal justice major, I have read that one reason for long sentencing is to have young criminals age out of crime. For example, it is more likely for people commit crime in their more youthful days. A long sentence would make a young offender sit in prison instead out on the streets, repeatedly committing crimes. It is believed that by the time they leave prison and are much older, they are less likely to keep committing crimes. My question is: Do you agree or disagree?

    Thank you very much,