When asked to write a clemency support letter to enhance a marijuana prisoner’s clemency petition, a lot of people feel at a loss with no idea what to say in order to be effective and help. Fear not! I am here to put those anxieties to rest and show you how YOU, yes even YOU, can significantly help a prisoner serving a life sentence for marijuana. It will take not more than 15 minutes of your time and the cost of a piece of paper, an envelope, and postage stamp.
Taking the time to write a letter in support of a prisoner’s clemency is one of the most important things you can do to help them, even though it won’t cost you much time or money. Why? Because each support letter is logged and recorded, and this makes a difference when it comes time for the pardon attorney to decide which petitions to support. Also, the more a given prisoner’s name comes up in front of the pardon attorney and their staff, the more they are likely to notice them. Keep in mind the pardon attorney’s office sifts through tens of thousands of clemency petitions, if you want to keep your prisoner’s chances high, it’s a good idea to send something in at least every month or so.
Be sure to also read: Clemency Support Letter Do’s and Don’ts! and Understanding Clemency, Commutation, and Pardons
Here is a basic guideline of how to write a letter, for those who are stuck on how to begin. Of course you can change the order and make it your own. You can also take more than a single paragraph to make the points below, but try to keep the letter to a single page if possible or two at maximum. You might also
1. Paragraph 1: State why you are writing:
I am writing to ask for clemency for prisoner NAME and ID NUMBER. You can also talk about how long the inmate has served and how and why you think it is society’s best interest for the inmate to be granted clemency.
2. Paragraph 2: Establish your connection to the prisoner — you can simply be a concerned citizen who wants to see justice served, or you may be a friend or family member of the person who is incarcerated, or a friend of their family. Whatever it is, let the President or Pardon Attorney know your connection and why you were inspired to write on their behalf.
3. Paragraph 3: Elaborate on the prisoner’s accomplishments — If you know anything about the inmate, like any classes they have taken, awards they received or degrees they have earned, or other ways they have worked to better themselves while in prison, mention it now. Maybe they have never been written up for disciplinary action, or they have maintained a job in the prison factory. If you personally know them and know their character you can also talk about that.
4. Paragraph 4: Bring up the sentence — Here is where you can talk about how such a lengthy sentence serves no good for the inmate nor society, how the prisoner would likely get a lower sentence if tried today (if in fact you know that is the case), how many states have legalized medical and recreational marijuana, etc.
4. Last Paragraph: Summarize your letter in last paragraph and again repeat your request for mercy, leniency, and clemency so the inmate can return to their loved ones.
5. Sign it!: Sign your letter and include your address. If you have a professional title, include that as well.
6. Mail It!: Mail the letter to the prisoner’s designated advocate (usually a family member or activist who is coordinating efforts). Letters for the prisoners on this site can be sent to me and I will make sure then get included in the proper packets:
Cheri Sicard/Marijuana Lifer Project
2727 Anaheim St #4914
Long Beach, CA 90804
attn: Clemency support