Letters to a parole board can be written by either supporters of an incarcerated person or the offender him- or herself. Having intelligent parole letters in his or her case file can help an offender when the parole panel makes its decision. It is important that each parole letter be thoughtful, heartfelt, and unique.
Each letter should detail and focus on aspects of how the offender has reformed, how he or she will be supported when released, and what steps he or she intends to take to continue to improve his or her life. Once parole letters are submitted to the appropriate office, all letters are available to the parole panel and may make the difference between a denial and a release.
A parole letter should be written on letterhead with contact information, date, and address of the parole board. The letter should include the salutation "Dear Honorable Members of the Parole Board," followed by a colon. An appropriate valediction for these letters is "Sincerely," followed by the full name of the writer. If the offender knows anyone who is gainfully employed and respected in the community, it would be a benefit to have that person write a supportive parole letter on official letterhead. All letters submitted should be respectfully official and use formal language, including appropriate punctuation, spelling, and letter conventions.
The information that the parole panel needs to make a decision revolves mainly around how the potential parolee will use his or her second chance to become a useful citizen. People who will benefit most from parole letters are genuinely contrite, have family and community members ready to oversee the reintegration into society, and have activities and a job set up starting immediately after their release. Parole letters are all about providing evidence of this well developed support network.
The information in a parole letter should be specific but heartfelt. For instance, when detailing how a supporter will provide a residence for the parolee, the supporter should emphasize how happy her or she will be to have the parolee home again and how much time they will spend with them. When talking about how the offender will stay away from unsavory activities, one might consider emphasizing how much joy the offender has gotten out of new, more useful activities and how those pursuits will be vigorously encouraged.
As important as getting parole may be, a few supportive letters from strategic community members with actual support to offer will do much more for a potential parolee than a massive influx of letters without substantive offers of support. Different regions have different guidelines for how to write a parole letter, and so it is important to get advice from the individual board where this letter will be sent.
The prison will also have information on where the parole letters should be sent. One last thing to remember is that ongoing letters, arriving not only when the parole hearing comes around but consistently coming in regular intervals, will signify to the parole panel that the support is ongoing and is not feigned simply to get the offender out of jail. Writing a good parole letter means actually acting on your promises of support so that there is a real-world network waiting to help the parolee stay out of jail for good.