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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77612 Find in a Library
Title: Disclosure of Presentence Reports in the United States District Courts
Journal: Federal Probation  Volume:45  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1981)  Pages:3-9
Author(s): P L Dubois
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article assesses implementation of the Federal rule requiring disclosure of the factual sections of a presentence report to the defendant or attorney upon request.
Abstract: Standardized into Federal practice in 1946 by the enactment of rule 32(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, a presentence report must be prepared by a probation officer in every case unless the court directs otherwise. This is intended to provide the judge with the kind of information needed for individualized rehabilitative sentencing. For many years, disclosure of the presentence report to defendants and their attorneys was prohibited under the rationale that such disclosure would inhibit sources of information and allow numerous challenges to the report that would delay sentencing and impair the rehabilitative process. Proponents of disclosure argued that it is necessary to ensure the reliability and accuracy of facts in the report. A compromise between these positions was reached in 1975 with the adoption of rule 32(c)(3), which requires disclosure upon request, while keeping confidential sources of information and diagnostic information, along with the probation officer's sentencing recommendation. The implementation of this rule was examined through a national field study involving personal interviews with Federal judges and probation officials in 20 district courts, as well as an analysis of responses to 3 sets of questionnaires sent to randomly selected judges, all chief probation officers, and selected line probation officers. Results show that although there is a high rate of disclosure of presentence reports, some districts may provide no formal notice of the report's availability, disclose the report only on the day of sentencing, impose duplication constraints that hinder full review, or refuse to disclose the report to the defendant. Further, the disclosure exceptions are often used to shelter law enforcement information, which is crucial to sentencing but often inaccurate. Thus, the picture often emerges of courts intent on fulfilling the threshold requirements of disclosure while not using all the procedures that would guarantee the rule's full and meaningful exercise. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Confidential records access; Federal regulations; Presentence studies; Surveys; Trial materials disclosure
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