How To Write a Good Parole Letter: What To Consider When Writing a Parole or Parole Support Letter

With Texas’ parole approval rate sitting at 38.4% as of 2021, learning how to write a good parole letter is essential to having your story heard and maximizing your chances of being granted parole. A parole letter is an incarcerated individual’s chance to explain how they’ve learned from their mistakes and reformed their character. It’s written to assure the parole board of one’s plans for continued rehabilitation outside of prison.

Parole letters can either be written by the potential parolee or a close friend or family member, although self-penned letters are usually the most impactful. While there are many different ways to write a parole letter, there are general tips conducive to writing an effective one. If you’re one of the many Texans wondering how to write a good parole letter or parole support letter, here are some informative guidelines on what to look out for and include.

Grammar and Syntax

A parole letter often acts as the first impression a parole board has of an incarcerated individual. Thus it’s vital that a letter is written in formal language, with overarching professionalism and an emphasis on proper grammar and formatting. Letters should avoid the use of slang and profanity and should be proofread several times before being sent to the parole board.

Overall Format

Letters written by a potential parolee should include a heading with the date, their full name, the name of the jail in which they reside, and the number assigned by the Department of Corrections.

A good parole letter is usually typed (or written in legible handwriting) and should always start with “Dear Honorable Members of the Parole Board.” Letters should always end with “Sincerely,” and your full name followed by a handwritten signature.

Evidence of Reform

The first half of a parole letter should be a testament to the individual’s remorse for their crime. It should exemplify the reformation experienced during incarceration and lay out any constructive plans for life on the outside. Begin by explaining your letter’s purpose and giving some background on your case, such as what led to the crime. It’s essential to show sincere contrition and abstain from rationalizing the crime or maintaining innocence. A good parole letter should list any rehabilitation efforts undertaken while imprisoned, such as continued education, sobriety, or newfound religion.

Future Plans

Finally, the bulk of your letter should consist of your plans post-release. This section should illustrate thoughtful consideration of how you will transition from incarceration and avoid recidivism. Be honest about your next steps and include specific details about any living, working, or schooling arrangements. You can also use this section to describe any feelings you have about being released and returning to society.

Future Support

Similar to a future plans section of a parole letter, a future support section should include an incarcerated individual’s plans upon release from prison but should also include the ways that you plan on supporting them, such as helping them find a job or providing them with temporary housing.

Penning a Proper Parole Support Letter

The same principles as a self-penned letter above apply. Letters of support should include a heading with the date and the writer’s full name, address, phone number, and email address, and the same address: “Dear Honorable Members of the Parole Board.” Always end with “Sincerely,” and your full name followed by a handwritten signature.

Start by explaining your relationship to the incarcerated individual in a way that exemplifies a strong bond, including how long you have known them and any impactful experiences you shared.

A letter of support should also include an attestation of the positive characteristics of the incarcerated person. This section should prove that despite their crime, they have the capacity for rehabilitation. Similar to showing evidence of reform in a parole letter, this section should include efforts toward reform, but should also exemplify the ways in which an incarcerated individual’s attitudes or life outlook changed during their sentence.

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