Preparing For a Pre-Sentence Investigation Interview

The Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) and the later Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSR) is without a doubt the most principal and definitive document used by the Court in calculating a defendant’s federal prison sentence. The PSI is the defendant’s “Bible”, his life history as seen by the eyes of the probation officer authoring the report in concert with the Assistant United States Attorney, AUSA, prosecuting the case. Besides being instrumental in calculating his federal prison sentence, the PSI is vitally important with respect to BOP federal prison designation, security level, custody level, work assignments, bunk assignments, furlough eligibility, restitution issues, community custody placement, inmate quality of life enhancements, ability to self-surrender, and admission into the 500-Hour Residential Drug Abuse Program to name just a few.

These are the very issues that each federal defendant must be vitally concerned about. The importance of the PSI cannot be overstated. It follows the defendant throughout his whole period of federal prison incarceration. Anyone who thinks the PSI is impartial, fair, and provides an accurate objective accounting of the defendant is grossly mistaken.

The Pre-Sentence Investigation Report is written by a Probation Officer working for the Federal Government. How can a defendant expect to get a fair and objective report? The PSI is often slanted against the defendant in favor of the government and the prosecution. It is not only the obligation of the defendant and his attorney to make sure that any mistakes, inaccuracies, and untruths are corrected, it is their duty. All of these corrections must be completed prior to the PSI’s final submission to the Court and the Bureau of Prisons. Unfortunately, many attorneys do not take the time and provide the scrutiny necessary to fully correct a defendant’s PSI. This may have meaningful undesirable effects on the defendant’s length of sentence, program eligibility, facility designation, security level, eligibility to self-surrender, and so many other factors that an inmate faces every day in federal prison.

The solution to this dilemma is for the defendant to hire someone who is very knowledgeable in Federal Prison issues, programs, policies, procedures, and who has truly experienced life in a federal prison. The defendant should hire someone who has truly gone by the whole course of action. This is someone who knows the “ins” and “outs” of the federal prison system. The solution is to hire a competent, experienced, and knowledgeable Federal Prison Consultant. A competent Federal Prison Consultant will prepare the defendant for the all important Pre-Sentencing Investigation Interview and already join him if his attorney cannot. It is vitally important that the defendant does not go alone to this interview.

The defendant must be knowledgeable, honest, have a complete control of the facts, and not leave out any required information. The Probation Officer will ask for personal information including the defendant’s complete name, aliases, social security number, date of birth, current and past addresses, family history, medical history, educational history, degrees earned, schools attended and educational associations. He will ask about his specialized associations, civic life history, civic organizations, physical and mental well being and substance abuse history detailing drug and alcohol use. He will ask about his current offense and will verify everything that he is told. He will probe any past criminal history, DUI’s, and already speeding tickets. He will probe family relationships by talking to the defendant’s sons, daughters, spouse, mother, and father. He will review relationships with therapists, clergy, specialized and financial associates, and friends. He will want current financial information including all assets, bank and savings accounts, brokerage accounts, character owned, cars pushed, IRA’s, 401-K’s, business ownership information, and business partners among other things.

A good Federal Prison Consultant knows the kind and extent of information that the probation officer asks and requires in writing the PSR. It is always the same. Every PSI interview, in spite of of the federal district in which it is conducted, follows a very similar pattern and direction. The information requested is always the same. A knowledgeable Federal Prison Consultant prepares the client for this all important interview. They know what will be asked and they prepare their clients for those questions. The information that is given to the U.S. Probation Officer must be complete, truthful, and factual. Knowing in improvement the questions you will be asked allows you to prepare complete, truthful, and factual answers. There are no surprises.

Life in a federal prison is hard enough. There is no reason to make it harder by allowing an inaccurate, incomplete, biased, and slanted Pre-Sentence Investigation Report to be submitted to the Sentencing estimate and the Bureau of Prisons.

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