My Reasons for Suggesting Defendants Learn More About PSI

By · Sunday, March 8th, 2009

A federal probation officer from Seattle conducted my Presentence Investigation Report after my arrest in 1987. I was 23-years-old then and I did not understand much about the criminal justice process. I knew that after a jury convicted me, I was facing a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. The presentence investigation did not seem as if it would have much relevance, as my judge had sat through a trial and he had heard the evidence against me.

Regardless of whether the judge relied upon the PSI report to influence his decision on the appropriate sentence for me, the report would have ancillary consequences to my life. As a prisoner, I would live under the authority of prison administrators. Unlike the judge, they would not have been privy to all the evidence prosecutors used against me during their trial. Prison administrators would rely upon my scheduled release date, and the information contained in my Presentence Investigation Report to determine my classification and program eligibility.

I received a 45-year sentence. The length of that sanction cannot help but prejudice people against me. They hear the length of time I’m serving and conclude that I must have been a horribly dangerous criminal. Yet the responses I gave during my PSI together with the probation officer’s findings influenced a PSI report that was favorable. That has made a huge difference in my prison experience and adjustment.

I was not trying to manipulate my probation officer when I gave my responses. At the time, I remember feelings of remorse, shame, humiliation, and disappointment. Rather than responding in an appropriate and responsible way to the charges against me, I had perpetuated a lie, mistakenly believing that I could escape the consequences of my actions.

During the few hours we spent together, and after evaluating a letter I wrote, and after considering what he had learned through his investigation, I think the probation officer presented my personality and background accurately. That PSI has played a role in persuading administrators to classify me in ways that allowed me to drop from high-security penitentiaries to minimum-security camps. It allowed me to participate in programs that have been beneficial to my adjustment.

The suggestions I have are incumbent upon the individual, not the process itself. The more the individual learns about the wide and long reach of the PSI, the more likely he will be to provide enough information for the probation officer to write a report that accurately reflects his background and personality.

Contact me today to learn more about how I can help with your presentence investigation report.  Visit or to learn more.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.