Guidelines for Letter of Support for Parole Hearings.
GUIDELINES FOR LETTERS OF SUPPORT FOR PAROLE HEARING
I know you want your letter to be as effective and helpful as possible, so here is a guideline about what is most needed:
1. The nature and duration of your relationship (how you came to know him or her, how long you've known one another, how you keep in touch, etc.).
2. Character reference: Your candid opinion of the inmate's character, strengths, trustworthiness, capabilities, suitability to be a productive member of society, etc. Keep it positive and honest.
3. In what, if any, way would you be willing to contribute to the successful parole of the inmate, i.e., place to live, job, financial help, transportation, telephone access, sack of groceries, etc., ... and mention whether this would be temporary or ongoing.
4. If you have a job to offer, please be specific as to type of work, estimated salary, etc., Or if you know someone who might be willing to help the inmate in this regard, please let the inmate know about this or have them get in touch with the inmate as soon as possible.
5. If you are offering temporary shelter or permanent residence, please mention if this would include meals, rent....a work/rent exchange, etc.
Based on experience and the opinion of the experts, letters are most impressive if they are typed and on letterhead when possible. Include a phone number. In my opinion, your sincere vote of confidence and assurance of love and moral support are equally as important and most welcome.
To ensure that your letter is read in its entirety by the Board members, it is best to limit it to one page.
Content should stay focused on suitability factors, etc., rather than used as a platform to vent views of the system.
Thank you for agreeing to write a support letter on behalf of our client. To assist in your preparation of a support letter, an outlline is provided as a general outline. It is ONLY a guide to provide you with ideas and we would urge you to use your own words.
Address Letter to: The Board of Prison Terms
Send your Letter to: Prisoner's counselor noting the name and CDCR # (you may also send a copy to the inmate)
Be certain to DATE your letter.
PARAGRAPH 1: This is an introductory paragraph explaining who you are and your reason for writing. You may be a friend, past neighbor, minister, etc.
PARAGRAPH 2: This is a longer paragraph and you should outline your contacts, friendship, acquaintance, history with, frequency of contacts, ability to observe the person, and duration of acquaintance.
PARAGRAPH 3: Statement of your knowledge that the individual has been found guilty of a specific offence. A few short sentences will suffice.
PARAGRAPH 4: An opinion, predicated on facts, as to the character and virtues of the individual, i.e., trustworthiness, honesty, intelligence, family or job orientation. Include your personal opinion of character and knowledge, if possible of his or her reputation for that character trait in the community.
PARAGRAPH 5: State your knowledge of his or her present behavior during incarceration, if known.
PARAGRAPH 6: Your recommendation for consideration of parole. This can be based on, but need not be limited to:
A. Reputation in the community and good character.
B. A productive life prior to prison. Contributions to society, and if the individual is given the chance, the ability to again contribute.
C. Community and church involvement, if applicable.
D. Individual's attitude during incarceration and his or her use of time.
Your letters inform the Board that there is a network of people on the outside who have remained supportive, as well as those who are ready, willing and able to assist should parole be granted. A network of family and friends serves to make the move from prison to the community an easier transition.
There are some caveats, as we have learned. They are:
A. Do not express your personal views on the criminal justice system or the manner that you may believe one has been treated unjustly.
B. Do not comment on the evidence of the case.
C. Do not make political comments. Remember, the Commissioners with the Board are Governor Appointees.
Thank you in advance for your valuable assistance. A copy of your letter mailed to the attorney would also be appreciated