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The primary purpose of a pre-sentence report is to assist the sentencing court in imposing an appropriate, individualised sentence. It is NOT to find excuses for the offender in order to bring about the lightest possible sentence, but to ensure that a sentence is found that is fair both to the offender and to society.
A pre-sentence report assist the presiding officer in gaining an enhanced understanding of the offender. The presiding officer is provided with the total picture of the offender, including the offender's background history, current circumstances, prior criminal history (if any), future criminal potential, mental and physical deviations and the impact of the offense on the victim.
The more comprehensive the picture of the offender is, the better the court is able to determine a suitable, individualised sentence. It is of the utmost importance that not only the circumstances of the offender should be taken into account when recommending an appropriate sentence option, but equally important is the interest of the society and the victim.
As the pre-sentence report also serves as a basis for continuing treatment and rehabilitation of the offender, the kinds and range of sentences and programmes available should be discussed in detail.
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