Criminal Justice Services
Sentencing Advocacy & Mitigation
In addition to sentencing advocacy, we also provide parole release advocacy, institutional designation and transfer, and release planning. When assisting court systems, NCIA has developed and implemented sentencing advocacy programs in 15 states and trained thousands of public defenders, probation officers, and other sentencing advocates.
NCIA Criminal Justice Services staff are often sought out for their expertise. The services we offer include:
Federal Sentencing Consultation
Since the inception of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines in 1987, NCIA has remained abreast of the frequent guideline amendments, the sentencing approaches that have developed around the guidelines, and the emerging empirical studies (academic, social, cultural, medical and psychiatric) that lend themselves to arguments in support of departures from the guidelines. Post-Booker, NCIA has been on the leading edge of developing mitigation presentations, including sentencing videos and historical sentencing data analysis. Additionally, we are intimately familiar with Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policies and practices through years of experience, communication with BOP staff, outside program personnel, and others, including current clients committed to the Bureau’s custody.
NCIA staff assist defense counsel and prepare a client for sentencing or prison by:
- Developing personal and professional background information and materials highlighting client’s history and character for submission to the probation officer and/or the Court by defense counsel;
- Advising defense counsel on the pre-sentence investigation process and probation interview;
- Conducting a disparity analysis of sentences imposed upon similarly situated offenders in federal courts using United States Sentencing Commission data.
- Creating sentencing videos that provide sentencing judges an additional lens through which to view the client. Videos can humanize a client and capture their blemish free life through the testimony and stories of those they have affected positively. The video submission is a collaborative effort between NCIA, the videographer, the client, defense and those who stories best illustrate the message we want to deliver.
- Reviewing, analyzing and assessing the draft Pre-Sentence Report (PSR). Assisting in preparing formal response to the PSR;
- Coordinating character reference letters and testimonials;
- If appropriate, developing a community-based sentencing alternative, and preparing materials for the court outlining a specific alternative sentencing proposal with supporting documentation.
Federal Sentencing Statistical Analysis
This collection contains information on federal criminal cases sentenced under the Sentencing Guidelines and Policy Statements of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. The data files included in this FSSA contain all cases received by the USSC that were sentenced between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2014. United States Federal Courts handled more than a million criminal cases between the fiscal years 2002 and 2014. The USSC estimates that 99 percent of all cases are included in the data collection.
Types of information gathered in the data sets includes:
- Statute(s) of conviction (including statutory ranges and mandatory minimums)
- Guideline applied
- Whether the defendant entered into a plea agreement or was convicted after trial
- All guideline calculations
- Criminal history information
- Final offense level and guideline range
- District and circuit where the defendant was sentenced
- The sentence imposed; detailed description of how the sentence will be served
- Reasons for departure or variance
- Financial penalties ordered
Development of Alternative Sentencing Plans
In 1978, NCIA prepared its first Alternative Sentencing Plan, using community service as social restitution. NCIA has continued to advocate for and write about the emergence of the imposition of community service as an alternative sentence.
18 U.S.C §3553(a) mandates the sentencing court to consider “the kinds of sentences available.” This mandate allows a community service order to satisfy the goals of sentencing in appropriate cases. Community service offers judges an alternative sentence they can consider for defendants who can offer invaluable services and expertise to community organizations. Substantial community service can sufficiently recognize the grave seriousness of white-collar crimes in particular, and utilize the time, skills and expertise of individuals who can be a benefit to communities in need.
NCIA assists defense counsel to prepare alternative sentencing proposals to the courts. This includes gathering client background information, identifying organizations in a client’s community that would benefit from the client’s unique abilities and developing extensive community service placement for the client.
Development of Sentencing Videos
*NCIA received permission from the client to post this video
Incarceration Management & Federal Prison Consultation
- Assisting the client in obtaining the most appropriate prison facility. This includes working with federal and state classification and designation authorities in determining the facility that best meets the client and family needs. Critical to this process is developing information and documentation prior to sentencing that provides the necessary information through the presentence report.
- Becoming the advocate for our clients in the designation process. Absent advocacy, many clients are designated to facilities that are inappropriate and not conducive to family visitation.
- Once a designation is made, NCIA assists our clients in both the practical and psychological aspects of imprisonment. These include:
- understanding the federal and state prison regulations
- assisting with information such as visiting hours, mail, commissary, telephone, items that are allowed in prison, etc.
- assisting clients in understanding the “culture” of imprisonment
- assisting families in understanding their visiting regulations and explaining the process
- Our tenet is that information is critical and that the more our clients can be prepared, the easier the transition is for them.
- Finally, when appropriate, we “partner” our clients with an existing NCIA client who is in a particular federal facility. For the past 40 years, we have assisted thousands of clients and have developed a substantial network of resources throughout the country. Having a currently incarcerated client to assist in the first couple of weeks of imprisonment is invaluable.
Residential Drug Abuse Program, RDAP
After leaving BOP custody he/she will start his supervised release period which is often for a period of 3 years. In all cases they will be following different rules and working with different branches of the Justice Department. Once he/she has completed his sentence he/she will then start supervised release and be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation office, which is part of the U.S. District Courts (Judiciary Branch of the Federal system, as opposed to the Department of Justice). It is the responsibility for the U.S. Probation Office to make sure that every defendant complies with the requirements of his supervised release. Supervised release often contains many different conditions such as travel restrictions, monthly reporting and payment compliance of any fines and restitution he/she may owe. If there is a fine or restitution outstanding during his supervised release period you will most likely be dealing with the U.S. Attorney’s Financial Litigation Unit. Once a person has completed his sentence (finalized supervised release) then he/she could have local issues such as reinstatement of State voting rights and other disenfranchisement issues.
NCIA Post Incarceration services include assisting with:
- RRC/Half-way house placement and consultation; anything from preparing the person on the rules/culture of the RRC, what they can bring with them, obtaining forms of identification; access to their motor vehicle, job hunting, getting the early release to home confinement, advocating for the client with the RRC, etc.
- Home confinement consultation.
- Supervised release consultation – this would include preparing for the probation officers meeting, monthly report, travel requirements, restitution and fine payments, etc.
Criminal Defense Updates
Herbert J. Hoelter, NCIA’s Chief Executive Officer, has assisted in over 1,000 white collar cases during his 38-year career. His expertise in anti-trust, tax, fraud and other individual and corporate crimes is unparalleled. He has also trained and mentored hundreds of other sentencing professionals.
Herbert J. Hoelter
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Herbert J. Hoelter is cofounder and chief executive officer of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA). Founded in 1977, NCIA is regarded as one of the most progressive and effective criminal justice organizations in the country. NCIA is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mr. Hoelter is recognized as one of the country’s leading experts in sentencing and the federal prison system and in developing alternative programs to incarceration. He directs NCIA’s sentencing and parole services, which has prepared cases in all 50 states, 75 federal jurisdictions, and three countries. Since 1977, over 20,000 NCIA cases have been presented for consideration by sentencing courts and parole boards. Mr. Hoelter has particular expertise in federal court and white-collar crime, having assisted in the representation of many of the insider trading, tax, securities and corporate fraud cases.
Mr. Hoelter holds a Master of Social Work degree from Marywood University in Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Buffalo. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at American University and on the faculty of the National Judicial College. He has lectured on sentencing advocacy and reform for over 20 state and local Bar Associations and was the representative of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) before the United States Sentencing Commission on the subject of alternatives to incarceration. Mr. Hoelter has also served as cochair of the NACDL post-conviction committee. He has appeared on ABC’s 20/20, CNN’s Crossfire, Good Morning America, Nightline and many other television and radio shows.
Mr. Hoelter has written extensively on the U.S. criminal justice system. He is coeditor of The Real War on Crime (HarperCollins, 1996) which advances promising solutions for criminal justice policy in the United States. He has authored articles for The Federal Sentencing Reporter, The Judges Journal, the American Bar Association’s Journal on Law Related Education, Federal Probation, The Champion, and The New England Journal on Civil and Criminal Confinement, as well as numerous legal newsletters. Check out some of his Criminal Defense Updates here.
7130 Rutherford Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21244
Ms. Getter is a Case Associate for Criminal Justice Services at NCIA. Through in-depth interviews with clients, Ms. Getter gathers background information to include in the Personal and Professional section of sentencing memos. Her comprehensive write-ups include a summary of a client’s personal life, his or her career history, and supportive highlights from character reference letters written on the client’s behalf by family members, friends, colleagues, professional associates and community members. Ms. Getter also arranges appropriate community service placements that match client skills with nonprofit organization needs. Once the client begins his or her community service work, Ms. Getter details the client’s contribution to the agency in the Community Service section of the sentencing memo.
Nancy Getter joined NCIA in October 2016. She has an extensive background in the social work field including community organizing, child abuse prevention through intensive parenting support and education, career counseling, and university administration. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Dartmouth College.
7130 Rutherford Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21244
7130 Rutherford Road
Baltimore, MD 21244
Career Development Center
2621 Lord Baltimore Drive
Baltimore, MD 21244
Youth In Transition School
7205 Rutherford Road
Baltimore, MD 21244
HJH Vocational Training Center - Baltimore
301 South Central Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21202
HJH Vocational Training Center - Charlotte
517 Blairhill Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28217
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