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NCJ Number: 68950 Find in a Library
Title: PRIVACY AND THE PRESENTENCE REPORT
Journal: INDIANA LAW JOURNAL  Volume:54  Issue:3  Dated:(SPRING 1979)  Pages:347-388
Author(s): W P MCLAUCHLAN
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 42
Sponsoring Agency: Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: PROBLEMS RELATED TO THE PRIVACY OF INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE PRESENTENCE REPORT AND THE KIND OF ACCESS WHICH VARIOUS INDIVIDUALS HAVE TO THE INFORMATION DURING THE SENTENCING PROCESS ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: THE PRESENTENCE REPORT PROVIDES A SOCIAL BACKGROUND AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PORTRAIT OF THE OFFENDER WHICH ENABLES THE SENTENCING JUDGES TO TAILOR THE SENTENCE TO THE INDIVIDUAL RATHER THAN SOLELY TO THE CRIME. MOST TRIAL COURT JUDGES ARE AUTHORIZED TO REQUEST A PRESENTENCE REPORT, ALTHOUGH SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS VARY AMONG JURISDICTIONS. THERE ARE NO CLEAR STATUTORY, CONSTITUTIONAL, OR CASE LAW REQUIREMENTS REGARDING THE PRIVACY OF INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE REPORT. PRESENTENCE REPORT PRIVACY IS COMPOSED OF TWO MAJOR ISSUES. THE FIRST AREA INVOLVES DISCLOSURE OF THE PRESENTENCE REPORT TO THE DEFENDANT OR HIS COUNSEL. THE SECOND ASPECT FOCUSES ON THE ACCESS WHICH PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND PRIVATE CITIZENS HAVE TO THE INFORMATION. THE MAJOR ARGUMENT SUPPORTING DISCLOSURE OF THE REPORT TO THE DEFENDANT IS THAT THE DEFENDANT SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO IDENTIFY REPORT INACCURACIES AND TO HAVE THEM CORRECTED. THOSE WHO OPPOSE DISCLOSURE TO THE DEFENDANT POINT OUT THAT SUCH DISCLOSURE MAY BE USED TO DELAY THE SENTENCING PROCESS. WITH REGARD TO DISCLOSURE OF THE INFORMATION TO OTHERS, MOST OBSERVERS FEEL THAT ACCESS, ESPECIALLY FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS, IS ESSENTIAL TO CARRYING OUT OFFICIAL DUTIES ASSIGNED TO THEM INVOLVING THE CASE. SEVERAL STUDIES OF PRESENTENCING PRACTICES FOCUSING ON CONFIDENTIALITY HAVE BEEN COMPLETED, BUT ARE ALL RATHER DATED. A STUDY CONDUCTED BY THE AUTHOR REVEALED THAT POLICIES ADOPTED BY SEVERAL JURISDICTIONS ENCOMPASS VARYING DEGREES OF DISCLOSURE RANGING FROM ONE EXTREME TO THE OTHER. SOME STATES HAVE LIBERAL PROVISIONS ALLOWING PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE REPORT. OTHER STATES PERMIT ONLY THE SENTENCING JUDGE TO EXAMINE THE REPORT, WHILE SOME MAKE NO PROVISION AT ALL FOR DISCLOSURE. STUDY QUESTIONNAIRE RESPONSES INDICATE THAT MOST JUDGES AND PROBATION OFFICERS DO PAY ATTENTION TO THE PRIVACY ASPECTS OF THE INFORMATION. FOOTNOTES AND AN APPENDIX CONTAINING THE STUDY QUESTIONNAIRES ARE INCLUDED IN THE ARTICLE.
Index Term(s): Legal privacy protection; Presentence investigations; Presentence studies; Privacy and security; Records; Right of privacy
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=68950

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