Monday, March 1, 2010

Admin Note

Several people have asked if it is too late to write clemency letters for Kevin and some guidelines on how to write a letter and what to put in such a letter.

It is not too late to write a letter, and we request that you please do so. Here are some helpful guidelines:

It is important to remember the following when writing a clemency letter:

  • Always reference that neither your letter, nor clemency excuses the crime, nor does it minimize the pain or suffering of the victim's family and friends.

  • Always write in a respectful, non-belligerent tone.

Before you write, read the points below. This is advice from a former member of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on what constitutes an effective clemency letter.

The key thing is to remember is that the goal of your letter is to request a reduction of sentence. This letter is not the time to rail against the inequalities and injustices of this system - doing so will render your letter less effective.

How to write an effective clemency letter


All of the members of the Parole Board will invariably believe that the judicial system is essentially fair and just. Therefore, they believe that the inmate has received a fair trial and is guilty.

When writing your letter, it does not matter whether you agree with this or not: This is what the Parole Board members believe and it is the context in which they will make their decision.

The members of the Parole Board are appointed by the Office of the Governor. They will almost invariably reflect the views of the Governor.

Most members of the Parole Board are not attorneys, so they generally are not going to consider the legal problems of a case. They view clemency letters essentially as pleas for mercy, they will need overwhelmingly good reasons to grant that mercy.

The bulk of your letter should focus on these points:

Emphasize the inmates humanity. If the Parole Board members are going to consider clemency, they need to be able to see the inmate as a human being and not as a criminal. One thing you can do is stress that the inmate is a parent with children.(Such things as this)

The Parole Board want evidence that the person whom you are requesting clemency has changed for the better. It would be good to note that the inmate has taken advantage of having spiritual advisors naming who they might be.

The Parole Board members will take in account a person's criminal history. People with extensive criminal histories have no chance at clemency. If no felonies or no violent offences in their background, highlight this in your letter.


Your letter might briefly mention the following things, but you should generally avoid them, and the focus of your letter should NOT be on these issues:

The facts of the case. Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, the members of the Parole Board are not going to want to be weighing merits of the case or the guilt or innocence of the inmate. It would not be out of line however to discuss perception of the facts.

Avoid personal attacks on the people who have been involved in the case. Again, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, the members of the Parole Board are going to be inclined to believe in the integrity of the process and the people who are a part of the process.

Basic Guideline to keep in mind:

  • 60 lines or less (not over long)
  • Nothing negative or belligerent toward Board, individuals in case or society or this governmental system

For some background on Kevin, in Kevin's own words. Please see THIS entry

Please send a copy of your letter to:

Robin Norris
Attorney at Law
2408 Fir Street
El Paso, TX, 79925

Fax: (915) 590-9992

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Fax: (512) 463-1849

Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Section
General Counsel’s Office
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd
Austin, TX 78757

Fax: (512) 467-0945

Chair: Rissie Owens
Jose Aliseda, Jr.
Charles Aycock
Conrith Davis
Jackie DeNoyelles
Linda Garcia
Juanita M. Gonzalez