The Critical Role of the Presentence Report
MARC BLATSTEIN, D.P.M.; FAY F. SPENCE, J.D.; E.J. HURST II, J.D.; AND MAUREEN BAIRD
Prisoners have a constitutional right to adequate medical care, but what that means and how to get needed treatment are often not well understood by attorneys representing criminal defendants.
This article attempts to address that knowledge deficit by explaining the medical, mental health, and substance abuse programs and policies in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), as well as some of the educational, vocational, and other available programs intended to rehabilitate inmates and prepare them for return to society. Equally important, the article explains the critical role of the presentence report (PSR) in determining whether and how needed treatment and programs will be available to a defendant. Documentation is paramount, and the diligent attorney must be proactive in gathering and supplying the appropriate documentation to the probation officer preparing the PSR and to the court, along with a sentencing memorandum advocating for the defendant’s desired sentencing outcome and institutional placement, supported by the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).