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What’s a PSI? Mandan community continues to wait for sentence in Chad Isaak trial

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 8:19 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - For more than two years, the Mandan community waited. They waited to see justice in the courtroom for a quadruple homicide that took place in 2019. One month ago, they got an answer, but they’re still waiting for the defendant to be sentenced.

After the verdict is read, a judge can order a pre-sentence investigation. PSI’s have been common in the legal system since the 1920s and utilize a court-authorized officer to uncover a wide range of information about the defendant.

“The interview itself covers a lot of territory. Like, does a person have social supports? Does a person have -- when we look at recidivism -- does a person have ties to the community? Does the person have leisure or recreation activities that are healthy or pro-social? It covers a lot of ground. What’s their own insight into the crimes that have been committed? Are they taking responsibility for it? They do a risk assessment,” said state’s attorney Gabrielle Goter.

PSI’s also take into account victim statements. Goter adds that they help judges pass appropriate sentences. Although, judges are required to pass a sentence in accord with the range set by the legal statute.

“All of this is filed under seal, so the public can’t see it. The sentencing court can see it, the defense gets a copy, and the prosecution gets a copy. And the defendant has a right to review it for accuracy,” added Goter.

The pre-sentence investigation may take months. It typically concludes at least 10 days prior to a scheduled sentencing hearing. In the case of the State of North Dakota v. Chad Isaak, it is still unclear how long the PSI will take.

Judge David Reich has not yet set a sentencing hearing for Chad Isaak.

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