It’s a really big deal when an inmate has the chance to get parole. Honestly, it’s all about your mind. At least it is for me. When I was sentenced to 30 years (two 15 year sentences, served concurrently), I had the opportunity to be eligible for parole after serving 15% or 45 months.
Shortly after I arrived at WERDCC, I received a letter with the month and year of my parole hearing, or as we called it, “my date.” That was a little over two years, so I had to work, attend classes, and stay out of trouble during that time.
When I finally met the Parole Board, I was given the shortest possible release date – exactly 45 months after my incarceration. I was able to get the shortest date for a variety of reasons. They included that I wasn’t in trouble, I was a first time offender and they thought my chances of reoffending were low.
Getting out of prison after only four years instead of 15 was the best day of my life.
Not every state has a parole board; not every state offers their inmates the opportunity for parole, but if your incarcerated loved one has the opportunity for early release, you can help make it happen by writing a letter of support.
When someone is paroled, it means they are technically still in state custody, but they are serving the remainder of their sentence outside the prison walls.
Parolees must be in regular contact with a parole officer. They must also have a job and a residence. Parolees are required to follow all laws and stay off drugs and alcohol, and many are required to undergo some kind of treatment or therapy.
Ultimately, my case was overturned by the state supreme court and my sentence was reversed. This means I am no longer on parole and I am a free citizen again. However, I digress. This blog post is about helping people get their freedom back, so let’s get started. Read on to learn how to write a letter to help someone get out of prison.
In today’s blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- The Power of a Parole Support Letter
- letter format matters
- Contents of your parole support letter
- Who Should Write a Parole Support Letter?
The Power of a Parole Support Letter
When your loved one is dealing with their criminal case, there isn’t much legal help you can offer them. From arrest to trial (if they have one) to incarceration, it’s a hard thing to watch. But that’s usually your only option.
However, if your incarcerated loved one has the opportunity to be granted parole, you will have the opportunity to speak out and help them regain their freedom. There are many factors to consider when a prisoner comes before a parole board. One thing that can make all the difference are letters of support from outsiders.
A strong, well-written letter can be the deciding factor in whether your loved one is eligible for parole. This is not something to be taken lightly. You can use this letter to bring humanity into the situation so that the committee sees your prisoner as a human being. Not just criminals.
letter format matters
In the world of texting and emailing, many of us forget how to write and format a proper letter. Heck, some of us probably never even learned how to do it. However, this detail must not be overlooked when you are writing to the Parole Board to help someone get out of prison.
I cannot stress enough the importance of properly formatting your letter. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to do the right thing.
First, your letter should be printed on plain white paper or personal letterhead. If you are writing as a business professional, letterhead is definitely encouraged, but not required.
To format your letter correctly, type the date in the upper right corner. Four lines down, enter your greeting on the left side of the page. Here is an example:
February 21, 2021
Dear Parole Board Members:
Remember to use correct punctuation and proper capitalization. Your greeting should be exactly as I wrote above. When you write a letter, each line should be single spaced. There should also be a blank line between paragraphs.
No need to indent paragraphs, just start on the left side of the page. When your letter is finished, end it with “Sincerely,” then enter your name on the next four lines. This will give you enough room to sign the letter. Also, make sure your closing, signature and name are on the left side of the page.
your name here
Be sure to proofread your letter for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors before enclosing the envelope. When addressing the envelope, be sure to find the correct address for the Parole Board handling your loved one’s case. You can do this easily with Google. Also, remember to fill in your name and address in the upper left corner.
Contents of your parole support letter
When writing your parole support letter, the first thing you do is introduce yourself at the beginning. Tell them your name, title or position (if any), and your relationship to the inmate.
In the second paragraph, you can detail your relationship with the inmate. You can discuss your positive experiences with them and share the positive qualities you see in them. You can even include examples.
In the third paragraph, tell the Parole Board that your inmate is a good person and that you trust them not to reoffend. Express your support for your loved one and explain how you and others in your community are prepared to help. Essentially, this is the part of your letter that testifies on behalf of your prisoner.
One of the biggest concerns of parole boards is that inmates will return to their old lives of friends and influence. Tell them that prisoners have a support group in their corner that can help with this.
Finally, end your letter by explaining why everything you wrote is true. Give a final argument for why your loved one should be paroled. Describe the changes and improvements you witnessed.
Let inmates know if there is a job waiting for them when they get out. Inform them of educational opportunities and make them aware of the support network prisoners will have. Also, if you know your loved one’s goals and plans when he gets out of prison, please mention it.
Who Should Write a Parole Support Letter?
Everyone in an inmate’s life who has anything positive to say about them can write a parole support letter. This includes family members, friends, former colleagues and bosses. Teachers, counselors, mentors, and coaches are also great sources of letters of support.
When you are writing to the Parole Board to help your loved one get out of prison, the most important thing to remember is to be authentic. If you’re not sure if your loved one is ready to get out of prison, don’t write that they are. The consequences of doing so can be dire.
Have you ever written a letter to help someone get out of prison? Let us know in the comments below.