Tips for Writing Letters

The following information was collected from various apologies for not remembering where we found them. 

Parole Support Letters:

The following information, taken from Parole Board guidelines has been published once a year for five years, to benefit family and friends of inmates who write letters to the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Prisoners are encouraged by the Board of Pardons and Paroles to provide evidence of support for their release on parole. One way to do this is through letters supporting a Prisoners's release. The information below is provided for Prisoners and family members who have questions about such letters.


There are no rules for support letters. These are only guidelines and suggestions. You must use what fits your own special situation. Don't be afraid to ask people to write letters. Many people care and want to help. Your request for help may give them a better understanding of the correctional process.

Letters of support are evidence that the offender will have a network of friends and family to help when he or she is released. 
They show:

1. Somebody know the prisoner and cares.
2. The prisoner has free world input while in prison.
3. Someone will help when he/she gets out.
4. The good side of the prisoner and thus help balance
the bad side which appears in his or her criminal record.


1. You, family members, close friends and loved ones.
2. Relatives, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
3. Respected members of the community, such as
4. Prospective employers, school teachers,religious teachers,
students, counselors, etc.
5. The Prisoner's Corrections Counselor/Supervisor or other
people who have known him/her while in prison, e.g.
chaplain,counselor, teacher,volunteers from the community.
If you can't find anyone who knows the prisoner, you may
ask for letters from people who know you and state that
your support will be of value during the offender's re-
adjustment to the community.
Also, people can write offering their support for the prisoner
based on their position in the community (such as a
minister in your church.)

At the time of the parole interview, three to ten support letters should be enough. Keep sending support letters regularly, not just at the parole interview date. This shows consistency and active support and lets the Parole Board know that you'll stick by the prisoner after release.

Commutation Specific Support Letters and
 Tips for talking to others about writing letters

What to Include:
a.       The facts of your case—what you did, how involved you were, why you were involved, and the sentence that you got
b.      Why you should get a commutation—why your sentence is too long for your crime; your extraordinary rehabilitation; why you stand out from all the others as someone who deserves a second chance
c.       Why your family needs you back home—i.e., your children lack a parent; financial hardship; a sick loved one needs you to care for them
d.         What your reentry plans are—where you will work and live, who will be supporting you, why you will not reoffend.

         What you have learned personally about Jane’s story and her rehabilitation (see the enclosed profile telling her story)
␣      Your belief that reuniting Jane with her family and offering her a second chance at life is important, worthwhile, and in line with our church’s beliefs about mercy and forgiveness
␣        Jane’s tremendous accomplishments in prison o Jane’s successful recovery from drug use and addiction o Jane’s acquisition of an education and vocational skills in prison

We ask that each of you write a letter. If you are a married couple, please enclose a letter from each of you. The more letters we receive – the more compelling Jane’s petition. Anyone who wants to write a letter should do so, regardless of age.
WHAT DO I DO IF I KNOW SOMEONE ELSE WHO WANTS TO WRITE ON JANE’S BEHALF? In addition to providing letters of support for Jane, please let me know if you can think ofothers who should know about Jane’s struggle to be reunited with her family. My phone number is 555-555-5555. Thank you for your support of Jane and her family. You will hear from me again in the very near future.
Sincerely, Joe Doe
President [Name] c/o Office of the Pardon Attorney 1425 New York Avenue, N.W. Suite 11000 Washington, D.C. 20530
RE: Commutation Petition of Jane Doe, # 00000-000 Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of Jane Doe and her family, I humbly request that you grant Jane’s request for a commutation. Jane is serving a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for assisting her then- boyfriend with selling drugs in 2001, when she was addicted to the drug. Jane is not eligible for parole and will serve another 8 years in prison unless her sentence is commuted.
[Insert your own thoughts about Jane’s case here, or use the following language: I learned about Jane’s case through [my pastor, her lawyer, her family]. Our church, [name of church], is in [location]. We have offered Jane a church home if she is released from prison. We feel she is deserving of a second chance and forgiveness. She has overcome her drug addiction, become a strong woman of faith, has a perfect behavioral record, and has served as a suicide watch companion and nurse to others while she has been in prison. She has been rehabilitated and has a loving and supportive family and community waiting to help her if she is released. Furthermore, her release is absolutely essential to her family. Jane’s parents are taking care of

President [Name] c/o Office of the Pardon Attorney 1425 New York Avenue, N.W. Suite 11000 Washington, D.C. 20530
RE: Commutation Petition of Jane Doe, # 00000-000 Dear Mr. President:
I am writing regarding the commutation petition of Jane Doe, a federal prisoner who is the daughter of two of my constituents, Joe and Jean Doe. After learning about her case and speaking with her family, I believe she is a worthy candidate for executive clemency. I respectfully ask you to grant her a commutation.
Ms. Doe has served almost half of a 15-year sentence for drug and gun possession offenses committed in 2001. At the time of her crime, Ms. Doe had recently gotten divorced and made the poor decision to deal with that difficult time in her life by using drugs. She began dating a man who gave her free drugs and was selling drugs to many others. Ms. Doe’s role was limited to counting money, but she was held accountable for all the drugs and the gun officers found in her home. Ms. Doe never used or threatened violence, and this is her first and only conviction.
Ms. Doe’s case is a textbook example of how overly harsh drug sentences are putting the wrong people in prison for too long and costing taxpayers billions in corrections costs. Ms. Doe got a longer sentence than her boyfriend, who was more culpable, despite the fact that the judge did not want to issue the sentence and did so only because the law required him to. Ms. Doe is also a textbook example of extraordinary rehabilitation. She is now sober, has been a model inmate, has gained job skills, resides at a low security facility, and has shown admirable service to other sick or distraught inmates. She has a loving and supportive church and family that will help her if she is released. Finally, her elderly parents are no longer capable of caring for her two children on their own. Her daughter has terminal cancer and may not live to see her mother come home from prison. Her family’s need for her return from prison is also extraordinary.
Granting Ms. Doe a commutation is the right, just, and fiscally responsible thing to do. I respectfully ask you to grant clemency. Thank you for your time and consideration of my views.
Sincerely, [Representative or Senator’s Name]


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  9. Does anyone have suggestions or guidance for writing a letter of support for commutation from death row, for a friend?

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