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Presentence evaluations are those assessments conducted prior to the sentencing stage of proceedings to assist the court in making an appropriate disposition. Individual differences in crimes, criminals, and circumstances justify the need for personalized sentences in each case. Mental health professionals, probation officers, and social workers are among those in the forensic field called on to conduct these assessments. This entry explores the importance of presentence assessments, the content of such assessments, and standards of practice in completing high-quality assessments.

Historically, the goals of punishment were retribution, incapacitation, and general deterrence. These objectives do not require in-depth knowledge of the offender. However, with the aims of reform and rehabilitation came a need for further information regarding the offender prior to imposing a sentence. Indeed, some scholars ...

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