PART 3 - How To: Prepare For A Parole Board Meeting

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STOP THE PAROLE PROBATION RELEASE OF ANY INMATE IN THE US

COLLECTING YOUR MATERIALS

Start to gather all the articles you wish to have with you when you go for your meeting. Put them all together in one place where they won't get thrown in the garbage, eaten by the dog or have food spilled on them.

You have already been through your collection of emails and letters written by others. Include only those that have not already been sent to your parole board in this group. Make sure you have copies of these letters and emails for your own records before giving them to the parole board.

If you have petitions or other documents to give to the parole board, make sure they are all grouped together. Using a paper clip to keep them together and separated from other groups of papers will help. Your own finished letter should be placed on top of all the other correspondence.

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CAREFULLY review all the notes you have taken since starting your task. You may find there are unanswered questions you have regarding your assailant or the parole meeting procedures written down. Other questions may occur to you while searching through your notes. Make a list of all these unanswered questions.

Place another call to your victim advocate prior to your meeting. Ask your advocate all of your questions. If he or she is unable to answer them, re-write them so you can ask the parole member at your meeting.

You may need to take time off from your job to attend your parole meeting. If this is the case, make sure you have asked for the time off that you will need in advance. If you are asked for a reason for the time off, you are allowed to say that you need it to attend to personal business. For employers to ask any further questions when you give them this explanation and demand a more detailed answer from you IS ILLEGAL! You are under NO OBLIGATION, by law, to give any further information to them!!!

You need to set aside time to reflect upon everything that you have seen and heard about your assailant during your preparation for this meeting. There may be outstanding items that you couldn't include in your letter to the parole board, for one reason or another.

Other people's thoughts or words that were unique or information that is of special importance should be placed in front of you. Carefully decide which of these things are most important. Create a list of the most unusual or outstanding material and opinions you want to emphasize during your meeting. Practice discussing them with another person or with a mirror until you feel comfortable. Place this list with the articles you are taking with you to your meeting.

WHAT TO WEAR AND TAKE TO THE MEETING

Your parole board sees many victims/survivors for meetings each month. Your meeting will be conducted in a very business-like atmosphere as this is an important part of their business. The best rule to follow when going for your meeting is to dress like a professional.

To the victims/survivors, this meeting is the culmination of months of preparation and hard work. It is to our advantage to be dressed in the same professional manner as the parole board members. Women should wear clothes that are appropriate for business meetings ( suits, pant suits, skirts). Men need to wear a tie and dress nicely.

DO NOT! wear t-shirts with victims'/survivors' photographs on them. A file containing information regarding your assailant and the victim(s) has already been given to the parole member you are meeting with prior to your arrival. The parole board knows why you are there and is sympathetic to you. T-shirts with such images are an insult to the parole board members and presents you in an unfavorable light.

Permission to have other people attend the meeting with you should be asked about in advance. State parole board rules and regulations vary so be sure to ask and find out what your state allows. Anyone attending the meeting is expected to dress in the same business-like fashion.

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YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED to take in a briefcase or a purse, due to increased security. You are only permitted to bring: 1) a state issued picture identification that must be presented to security when you enter to verify who you are, 2) a paper folder or large envelope containing any papers you wish to give to and leave for the board, 3) a pen and a few blank pieces of paper to take notes on during your meeting and 4) your car keys.

If the weather is bad, we suggest you take your folder or envelope of papers and put them into a plastic grocery-type bag that can be thrown out once you get inside the door of the waiting area.

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WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE MEETING

When the day for your meeting with the parole board or department of corrections arrives, you may find yourself to be a bundle of nerves. This is where all the preparation and planning you have done pays off. You are dressed respectably, have your papers organized neatly and are ready to go.

Plan on arriving for your meeting a few minutes early. This will allow you time to completely focus on what you want to accomplish during your meeting. You can also review the notes you have regarding the most important information you want to present to the parole board.

Remember that the people you are about to meet with WANT to hear your opinions and information. Your input should assist them in making a fair decision concerning your assailant.

The meeting itself can last any length of time. Conferences can last for a brief 15 minutes to over 2 1/2 hours with a different parole member. These are the extremes this author has experienced.

You may feel as awkward or tense prior to the start of your meeting as you did at the original trial. BUT.... YOU KNOW THIS INFORMATION BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE!! You need to remain focused on the materials that you have gathered and are ready to present to the parole board. After the conference has begun, your fears should subside. All the preparation and hard work that you have done will help the meeting go smoother and give you the confidence to present yourself and your material in a professional manner.

During your meeting, be honest with your comments and answers. Present your papers and other materials, one grouping at a time, starting with your own letter. Ask the parole member if he or she has any questions for you. Take notes for yourself if there is information given to you that is new or very detailed. Refer to the questions you have written down prior to your meeting. If any of them remain unanswered towards the end of your meeting, ask them.

As your meeting draws to a close, there is nothing wrong with asking when you can expect the parole board or department of corrections to reach a decision and how you will be notified of their decision. Thank the person you have met with BY NAME for their time and help.

Once you have left the office, you have every reason to smile. You have done the best job you know how and given it the best effort possible. The rest is up to God and the members of the parole board. The only thing you can do now, is hope and pray that the decision the parole board or department of corrections makes is the best one for you and all of society.

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