To date, few scholars have examined the role of the Pre-Sentence Investigation report in sentencing decisions. This research explores the relationship between PSI recommendations and sentencing decisions through a primarily qualitative approach. Qualitative data from one small California jurisdiction in 2008 are used to determine the degree to which judges follow PSI recommendations and whether recommendations are independent in nature or based on previously established “going rates” for crimes. Although there is very little research available on this topic, the data that are available do not delve into the relevance of the report and the degree to which recommendations are primarily ceremonial and essentially “predetermined” by other actors. Ultimately, this research is intended to shed further light on the sentencing process and provide clarity on the relative importance of PSI recommendations in sentencing decisions.
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