The Dallas Law Office of Stephen P. Karns

The Parole Packet

A thorough, professionally prepared "parole packet" should be a part of any parole presentation by an attorney. The packet is much more than a letter: it contains Mr. Karns' argument to the Board in favor of granting the Client parole; Mr. Karns' parole plan for the Client; support letters from the Client's family and friends; an offer of employment for the Client; the Client's resume; any certificates of achievement earned by the Client; the Client's diploma; any awards earned by the Client; the Client's personal story; the Client's own letter requesting parole; pictures of the Client and his family; the Client's educational records, treatment records, and more. In some cases, the parole packet prepared by Mr. Karns may be the only documentation in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) file on the Client that is not from TDCJ, the State of Texas, or the District Attorney's office.

The purpose of the parole packet is to present a complete, organized, and eye-pleasing presentation of the Client's positive and redeeming qualifications for parole. It addresses the mistakes the Client made and attempts to neutralize any lingering negative consequences for those choices. The packet does this, in part, by presenting whatever mitigating circumstances there are which serve to lessen the Client's role or responsibility for offenses that were attributed to him. In addition, the packet highlights the Client's rehabilitative efforts while incarcerated, such as working and participating in educational, vocational, counseling, or other treatment programs. In presenting these facts, the packet demonstrates to the Board how the Client has taken responsibility for himself and his past by rehabilitating himself. It shows the Board that the Client has the "right attitude," doesn't blame others for his situation, and is making a positive effort to plan for his future. Lastly, the packet clearly maps out the Client's support system in the event he is paroled and lays out plans for housing, employment, and other necessities for life on the "outside."

One reason why the packet is so important for making the Client's case is because the Board may meet with crime victims and/or their representatives. However, there is no corresponding requirement that they meet with the Client, his family, or his attorney. Board rules require that all communication regarding the Client with the Board be in writing. In most cases, Mr. Karns is granted a either a telephonic or in-person meeting with the lead voter for the Board assigned to the Client's case. But in the case where the lead voter refuses such a meeting, the Board is still required to accept the packet. In this circumstance, a well-prepared packet is the Client's only way to make his case for parole to the Board.

In a parole case, the lead voter of the Board is responsible for taking the lead in gathering information for the other members assigned to that case. If the lead voter on the Client's case grants a meeting with Mr. Karns, Mr. Karns will make an oral presentation to that Board member based on the packet. In some cases, the member will ask questions, make comments, and take notes for the file. These notes, along with the packet, will be available to the other Board members who may vote on the case. The goal of the packet as well as Mr. Karns' presentation is to establish an image of the Client that is most favorable for a positive vote as possible. Both the oral presentation and the parole packet have a role in humanizing the Client. Mr. Karns' goal is provide evidence and a persuasive argument that shows that his Client is no longer a threat to public safety and is ready to again become a productive and law-abiding citizen.