Secret Reports & the Loss of Freedom

Presentence reports prepared by the state are confidential documents rarely seen or reported on and yet the information contained in them is routinely used as the basis for life and death decisions by judges in criminal courts.  This recent article by the Standard Examiner sheds some light on these secret documents…

Walker’s attorney, Todd Utzinger, said he had a number of concerns with the presentence report prepared by Adult Probation and Parole. One of those concerns was the mistaken use of the criminal history of another person with a similar name to determine what type of sentence Walker should receive. Utzinger said his client has been drug-free and crime-free for about five years, but there was no mention of that in the report.

Judge John R. Morris indicated that he was “concerned with some of the items in the report done by Adult Probation and Parole” even as he relied upon the report in sending the defendant to the Utah State Prison.

What is not reported in the article is the fact this error filled report will now be relied upon by correctional authorities to determine where Walker will be housed, what his classification will be, and what programming/treatment opportunities will be available to him.

The presentence report will also be relied upon by the parole board in determining when and if Walker should be granted parole.  In other words, this inaccurate report will have long term implications with few opportunities to correct the inaccurate information contained in the report.

A link to the full article is available here.