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Importance of the Presentence Investigation Report After Sentencing

NCJ Number
Criminal Law Bulletin Volume: 18 Issue: 5 Dated: (September/October 1982) Pages: 406-441
J M Schmolesky; T K Thorson
Date Published
36 pages
The role of the presentence report during and after sentencing is examined, with emphasis on the proposed revision of Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which governs the disclosure of presentence reports.
The presentence investigation report has been called the most important document in the Federal criminal process. While its main purpose is to help the court in determining an appropriate sentence, it has continuing importance in decisionmaking after the conviction. The report is the most comprehensive collection of information concerning an inmate and the offense available to the Bureau of Prisons and the parole commission. As a result, the report is crucial in many custody and release decisions. Although the defense disclosure provided by Rule 32 has been expanded in recognition of the need for accurate information, meaningful disclosure has not been achieved. The current proposed revision was developed by the Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules of the Judicial Conference of the United States. The proposal recognizes the continuing use of the report after sentencing and requires more consistent disclosure practices. However, further amendments would be desirable. A written summary of non-disclosed information should be included in the report rather than separately. The defense should also receive copies of the report. The courts should retain the copies, and correctional officials should maintain them to assure continued access to the report. Reference notes and an appendix presenting proposed revisions to Rule 32 are included.