At Prison Consultants of America (PCA), we offer a wide range of services covering all aspects of research and consulting on prison-related matters. However, our pre-sentencing services easily rank as one of the most important branches of our multi-faceted operations.
While not a law firm or officially and legally defined as a provider of "legal advice," PCA is fully informed on legal matters relevant to whether or how long a defendant will be sentenced to time in federal or state prison. We work closely with defendants and/or with their defense attorneys to equip them with the knowledge they need to intelligently negotiate a favorable plea and to successfully petition a judge for a sentence reduction.
PCA staff will "excavate" the vast legal landscape of current sentencing guidelines and past sentencing precedents to identify mitigating factors that can reduce or eliminate prison time. We clarify to our clients what is the potential range of possible sentences for a particular crime and for a defendant with a particular background and criminal record. Additionally, we offer insight into Federal Bureau of Prisons policies and help convictees to be assigned to minimum, or at least lower security, prison facilities.
A major part of our pre-sentencing consultations will directly relate to the pre-sentence investigation report (PSIR), which will be a key document both for immediate guidance and long-term reference. The PSIR is a summary tool that brings to the fore those factors that could possibly result in a lighter sentence or assignment to a less harsh prison facility and contains elements helpful in reviewing plea agreements before they are finalized.
The forerunners of modern PSIRs were first seen in the 1840's, due to the prison reform efforts of John Augustus, who wished to see those deserving of less harsh punishments sentenced according to their specific situation rather than in a "one size fits all" fashion. The practices begun by Mr. Augustus had become firmly established by the 1920's, and in 2005 and 2009, two Supreme Court rulings declared federal sentencing guidelines "advisory rather than mandatory" and found defendants to have a Constitutional right to have all "mitigating circumstances" fully investigated before sentencing.
PSIRs will contain both legal and extra-legal data since both can have an impact on how long a prison term will be and which correctional institution an inmate is assigned to. Additionally, the PSIR can help determine who is eligible for certain programs in prison that might affect one's release date, and will also be referenced by probation officers and researchers on any later cases the defendant may be involved in.
A PSIR will typically include such information as the following:
- Adult/minor past criminal record
- Probation and parole record
- Exact nature of the current offense
- Details of past/present plea agreements
- Any additional pending cases
- Gang affiliations
- Drug/alcohol abuse history
- Employment status/history
- Community ties
- Educational background
- Financial situation
- Physical/mental health
- Past military service
- Victim impact analysis
- Evaluation of needs
Via direct consultation and assistance in preparing the PSIR, we at Prison Consultants of America will do everything possible to reduce and otherwise ameliorate a defendant's prison term (or exchange it for community service or other programs wherever possible).
At PCA, we specialize in "white collar" crimes but can handle cases dealing with any type of offense and in any jurisdiction throughout the United States.
To learn more or for a free initial consultation, contact us today at 619-663-6859.