In Texas, inmates are eligible for parole depending on a number of circumstances. These include the date of their crime and/or sentencing, the type of sentence they receive, and whether they are classed as State Jail inmates or not. A parole packet is simply a collection of supporting evidence, sent to the BPP members either by the inmate or their supporters, in time for the parole review process.
State Jail inmates do not qualify for any parole as their sentences are only up to 2 years in length. Other inmates are assigned to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) prisons. The majority of inmates' sentences since 1996 are classed as either “3g” or not. Being a “3g” inmate means the sentence has an aggravated component and the inmate must serve at least 50% of their time before being considered for parole. Non-3g inmates are eligible for parole after serving 25% of their sentence.
There are many parole lawyers available for hire. It is an individual inmate or their family’s choice whether to engage the services of a parole lawyer or not. There are no reliable statistics available to suggest whether inmates who use a parole lawyer are more or less likely to be successful in the application for parole. However, few parole lawyers can do more than the inmate’s family can do when it comes to influencing the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) in making their decision.
There are no formal hearings for parole in Texas as there are in many other states. The inmate is usually interviewed by a parole officer at their assigned prison, some time before the actual date of possible parole release. A report is then submitted by the parole officer to the regional BPP office. A panel of 3 BPP members will review the report and any other supporting documentation, and will then make their decision in private. The BPP are required to provide the reasons why parole may have been denied, but these are usually very brief and unhelpful.
The inmate should be informed when they are about to enter the review process and their file will be retrieved from the central office to be copied and distributed to all regional BPP members. At this point the inmate should begin to prepare a letter to go into the parole packet. The letter should be typed if possible, so may need to be handwritten then sent to a friend or family member for typing up, and then either returned to the inmate or placed in the parole packet. The letter should briefly cover the inmate's achievements during incarceration, and their future provisions and hopes.
Other supporting evidence for the individual parole packet can consist of letters of support from family, friends and local citizens from the community where the inmate hopes to reside upon release. A few short and concise letters from individuals of standing such as school Head teachers, the local sheriff, any potential employers, magistrates etc are worth more that lots of long family letters. A few clear photographs are also useful, although not too many. Just a couple of shots taken during the inmate's visitation, showing family support.
Document any educational qualifications obtained by the inmate during incarceration that were not provided through the prison. Correspondence courses and other forms of study are good to include. You should also provide a document setting out the possible living arrangements, whether a job and vehicle will be available to the inmate, and any church activities that they may take part in such as outreach groups. Details of any support groups such as AA or NA meetings that the inmate has agreed to attend should also be included.
When all the letters and documents are collected by the individual supplying the packet, it is a good idea to create a content's page, including the inmates name and TDCJ number, listing everything that is enclosed. You can put everything in a plastic wallet to keep the pages from coming loose. Make at least one copy of all the documents for yourself, and then send the entire packet to the following address:
TDCJ Parole Division,
P. O. Box 13401,