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How to write a parole support letter in five steps

Letters from friends, family, co-workers, etc. can increase an offender’s chances of being granted parole.

While there is no specific format required, you should try to be organized, detailed, and honest. Below are five steps to help you prepare a letter of support:

Step 1: Choose an appropriate format

  • A typed letter is preferable, but a handwritten letter is fine (just write legibly)
  • Date your letter
  • Address the letter to “Dear Board Members”

Step 2: Introduce yourself

  • State your name and, if relevant, your title, job, etc.
  • Outline why you are writing this letter (e.g. “This letter is in support of X’s upcoming hearing for day parole”)

Step 3: Describe your relationship with the offender and why you think the offender is unlikely to reoffend or violate parole conditions

  • Outline how long you have known the offender for and in what capacity
  • Describe the traits the offender has that make you believe the offender will not pose an undue risk to society or violate parole conditions
  • Tell stories and give specific details!
  • Note that a letter of support is generally not an appropriate forum to protest the offender’s innocence, minimize the offence, or rationalize it
  • Instead, support letters should identify the offender’s shortcomings and mistakes, and then describe how the offender has taken steps to change
  • If the offender has completed programming, avoided misconduct in prison, pursued educational opportunities, worked while in custody, etc., then those are accomplishments that might be worth highlighting

Step 4: Explain how you will support the offender’s rehabilitation

  • Remember, a support letter is not just a reference letter: it is to explain how you will support the offender in the community
  • Discuss what specifically you will do to assist the offender (e.g. provide housing, financial support, friendship, employment, transportation, emotional support, etc.)
  • Explain how you fit into the offender’s release plan

Step 5: Conclude your letter

  • Repeat that the offender has your support and quickly summarize why the offender should get parole
  • Sign off with “Sincerely,”
  • Write out your full legal name and sign the letter


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