Back to RJ Archive

Presentence investigation reports: A relevant justice model tool or a medical model relic?

Stinchcomb, Jeanne B
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Criminal Justice Policy Review. 12(2): 164-177.

As the clinically driven paradigm associated with the earlier era of criminal justice policymaking known as the medical model has been replaced by the legislatively defined prescriptions of the justice model, accompanying changes have occurred throughout the system. Once the backbone of a microoriented emphasis on the individual offender’s potential for change, presentence investigation (PSI) reports’ nature, role, and impact have been transformed as the system shifted to policy-based sentencing practices that place higher value on personal accountability and procedural uniformity. The article explores social forces that have shaped these alterations over time, along with how they progressively affected and altered the basic functions of PSI’s. The article discusses practical staff-related consequences of these developments, along with implications for future PSI utility and alternative research methodologies. It claims that the issue will continue to be whether PSI’s should focus on long-term treatment goals related to analyzing offenders’ rehabilitative prospects or on short-term public protection by outlining risk perils. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now