Tips for Writing a Letter of Support to the Texas Parole Board
- March 28, 2018
- Parole, Parole Representation
- The Law Office of Greg Tsioros
- Comments Off on Tips for Writing a Letter of Support to the Texas Parole Board
If you are eligible for parole in Texas, the following tips for writing a letter of support to the Parole Board can help you make parole.
The Parole Panel reviews the offender’s support letters before or during the parole review process. They’re placed in his or her case file.
A letter of support should include details that demonstrate to the members of the parole panel that the offender, if granted parole, has a strong support system in place. The letter may also include other important details, such as 1) employment or potential employment, 2) residence, 3) transportation, 4) treatment programs (if applicable), and 5) any additional information the supporter believes will be helpful to the parole panel members in reaching a decision.
Any letter of support must include the name of the offender and his or her TDCJ number. It should be written on letterhead stationery. Letters of support should be mailed to:
Parole Division, Attention: Correspondence
P.O. Box 13401
Austin, TX 78711
Letter of Support to the Texas Parole Board FAQs
Before enlisting many supporters, it’s important to note that the parole panel prefers receiving several “clear and concise” letters that state the specific nature of the writer’s support, e.g. residential, financial, vocational, etc.
Think quality, not quantity, when requesting letters of support.
Don’t send multiple copies of the letter to each member of the parole panel. The supporter’s letter is placed in the file and is available to all members.
If the offender eligible for parole in Texas has completed courses and earned vocational or educational certificates in prison, the parole panel will accept certificate and transcript copies if he or she includes them for review. Note that the information should already be included in his or her case/interview summary submitted by the institutional parole officer.
Write a Parole Support Letter
The following information is provided by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles’ guidelines for the benefit of the inmate’s family and friends who wish to write to them. The Board:
- Encourages inmates to offer evidence of support for parole, e.g. letters of support.
- Notes no “rules” for support letters are provided. The Parole Board recommends that the inmate use what’s suitable to his or her situation.
- Recommends asking those who care about the inmate, who want to offer help to him or her.
Before requesting a letter of support:
- Prepare to answer the prospective writer’s question, “What’s a letter of support?”
- Explain that the letter should show 1) the writer knows and cares about the inmate, 2) the writer will help in some way if the inmate is granted parole, and 3) the writer knows and communicates the inmate’s good qualities (to balance out the details of his or her criminal record).
Who should write the support letter?
- Family, close friends, other loved ones, and you can write support letters.
- Grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives can write a support letter.
- Businessmen and other respected community members can write a support letter.
- Potential employers, counselors, teachers, fellow students, and religious mentors can write a support letter.
- People who have known the inmate in prison, e.g. the Prisoner’s Corrections Counselor or Supervisor, prison chaplains, volunteers, and others, can write support letters.
When asking anyone for a letter of support, the inmate should explain that his or her support may be of value during his or her re-entry into the community.
How many letters of support?
The inmate should aim for three to 10 support letters in his or her file at the time of the parole interview.
However, it’s important for the inmate to regularly request support letters. Active support tells parole panel members that the inmate has a cadre of people who believe in his or her ability to return to society as a productive member.
Support letter content
A letter of support should include several types of information.
- It should include the inmate’s name, occupation, and age. (first paragraph)
- If the inmate worked in an occupation for several years, it’s important to state how many years he or she worked in this role. (first paragraph)
- The author of the letter should state his or her relationship to the inmate and the time he or she has known the inmate. (second paragraph)
- The letter should describe the author’s belief that, although the inmate made a mistake, he or she is a good individual and why you hold this opinion. (third paragraph)
- The author should describe the belief that the inmate will, if granted parole, function as a law-abiding and useful adult in the community. (third paragraph)
- The author should note any improvements in the inmate’s attitudes, behaviors, and/or efforts to improve while in prison. (The author should mention the specific help he or she will provide, e.g. transportation, housing, transportation, etc.) (fourth paragraph)
Each letter of support may include similar details.
If the author is willing to help, but doesn’t have a job or funds to offer the inmate, he or she can offer to mentor the parolee, or offer encouragement and advice. This assistance is valuable to an individual released from prison.
The author of the letter of support should review all of the factors the parole board will consider, including:
- The seriousness of the offense
- The length of the original sentence
- The amount of time the inmate has served
- The offender’s age
- His or her juvenile history, arrests, criminal history, and number of prison incarcerations
Call attention to any of the above areas that reflect well on the inmate. For example, if the inmate was just 17 when he or she committed the crime (and had no previous offenses), note this in your letter of support.
If he or she has successfully finished court-mandated therapy, e.g. an anger management program, and you notice a positive change in his or her behavior, this is worth pointing out in your letter of support.
Letter of Support Format
The letter of support should have four paragraphs, as outlined above.
According to a former parole officer, it’s important to provide the information in the guidelines. However, it is permissible for a supporter to write a personal or emotional letter as well, as long as the letter contains the necessary information.
The goal of the author is to put forth a letter that positively differs from the many thousands of letters the parole panel reads each year. To distinguish the letter, the support should answer the following questions:
- What has this inmate done that differs from every other inmate that warrants his or her early return to the community?
- What information can you provide to support the conclusion that the inmate isn’t at risk for committing a new offense? (Refer to stable employment, environment support, accountability, well-defined goals, and a thoughtful action plan to accomplish these goals.)
- Has the inmate evidenced a change in his or her behavior since conviction? (Reference his or her clean discipline record in prison, or show he or she consistently improved during incarceration.)
- Does the inmate show a desire to succeed? (It’s not enough to say he or she wants parole so much. The author must show how and why the inmate will be successful on parole.)
Letters of support copies should be placed in the parole packet. An experienced parole attorney is an invaluable resource in preparing and submitting the parole packet to members of the Parole Board.
Information to Include in the Parole Packet
In addition to letters of support, the parole packet should include:
- Information about or copies of achievements and awards the inmate has achieved in prison
- His or her post-prison game plan. This explains his or her specific plans if granted parole, including details about job opportunities available.
- The packet is presented to the parole member interviewer. When properly prepared, the parole packet shows that the inmate is better prepared than most of his or her peers for re-entry into the community and that he or she has the support to implement the plan in the future.
Contact an Experienced Texas Parole Attorney in Houston TX
If you or someone you love is eligible for parole, or will soon become parole-eligible, it’s important to ask supporters to write their letter to the Parole Board. Letters of support can benefit your case.
You may have many questions about the other ways to improve your chances of making parole in Texas.
If you’re searching for an experienced parole attorney who will aggressively fight for you, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros at 832-752-5972 to request an initial case review.