How to Write a Letter of Clemency

By Natasha Parks
Be honest and provide good reasons why the person is worthy of clemency.

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A letter of clemency is just that: a letter asking a court to show mercy on a person convicted of a crime. So keep the main aim of the letter in mind as you write it. Explain carefully why you feel the person you are writing the letter for should be granted mercy.

Plan your clemency letter before you write. Make a list of the reasons you believe the person deserves clemency. Practice several different versions before committing yourself to the layout and sentences you include. Maintain a positive approach throughout. Focus on facts rather than emotions. Use straightforward, clear sentence construction.

Start by introducing yourself, what you do and your relationship to the convicted person. Name the convicted person and identify the crime they were convicted of.

Give as many genuine, important reasons you can think of why the person deserves to have their sentence reduced or commuted. Does he have dependents who need him? Does he have a spouse or elderly parent to care for? Is he a single parent? Does he support a disabled or disadvantaged person? All these are reasons to ask the court for clemency.

Emphasize that the person is remorseful, accepts responsibility for his crime and is intent on changing. List concrete examples of steps he is taking to change. Mention any courses the prisoner is taking or counseling he is receiving, such as drug treatment or GED classes. Explain how his imprisonment is affecting his family. If any of his family members are being treated for stress, depression or any other condition related to his imprisonment, provide the name and contact information of the doctor treating them.

Daily Strength suggests you aim for about 60 lines. Read over your letter twice to yourself and then aloud to a trusted friend or relative who can give constructive feedback.

About the Author

Natasha Parks has been a professional writer since 2001 with work published online and in book format for "Thomson Reuters," the "World Patents Index" and thomson.com. Her areas of expertise are varied and include physics, biology, genetics and computing, mental health, relationships, family crises and career development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics from King's College, London.

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