Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account in Kentucky.
I would like to share my letter to the parole board that I wrote in Ricky’s World requesting parole after ten months of incarceration. Parole was granted.
As many of you know, I was convicted of a no-drugs, no-alcohol, no-bad-driving DUI (Kentucky rejects exculpatory scientific toxicology testing and favors all-over-the-place speculation from a lying deputy), possession of 0.144 grams of “gonna be crack,” and tampering.
I was sentenced to eight years from the bench. However, as you also are aware, Judge Craig Clymer sentenced me to four years in writing. After I went home on parole with a parole plan in place, Judge Clymer issued an arrest warrant, claiming “typographical error” in the written order and doubling the sentence to eight years. I believe now, and I have always believed that the fake parole and rearrest was a purposeful act on the part of the judge; it is impossible that the judge was innocently unaware of star witness Deputy Eddie McGuire’s penchant for lying and changing his testimony numerous times under oath. That I refused to ‘go along with the flow,’ and that I had the utter temerity to take a firm position infuriated this judge. Fake parole, that is, allowing someone to experience a brief taste of freedom before burying the person again, is a very effective way to tell a person that you do not care for her.
When I wrote my first parole request letter, I was in a bit of a quandary, because while I was well aware that the parole board probably wanted to see me discuss what I had learned from my crime, I maintained the position that I did not commit a crime.
Rather than admit to and discuss the ramifications of a crime, I did accept full responsibility for drug and/or alcohol involvement in my life, and I acknowledged the consequences that I could bring upon myself, related to such involvement. I reiterated what I had learned and accomplished during incarceration, and crafted a parole plan.
I am placing this letter online, because some folks visit this site through such search terms as “how to make parole on the first try.” Since I did make parole on the first try, I will share the information.
Note: A letter from an inmate is only one aspect of a parole board’s decision to grant or deny parole. For example, they have before them an inmate record card reflecting any disciplinary write-ups or issues suggesting poor institutional adjustment. I had no write-ups, and so I knew that the parole board had a ‘clean’ card in front of them. I provided hard copies of certificates of completion from Bible studies, as well as letters of recommendation from various sources. I provided a hand-written letter from a fellow inmate that I tutored.
I am not sure what role inmate family letters play. I have seen some pretty awful family member letters (I saw such a letter one time that said something like: My son is a thieving, conniving sociopath. If you let him out he’s gonna kill somebody), where the inmate was granted parole in spite of family wishes to the contrary and so, I am inclined to believe that the parole board considers the fact that family members may present not the most objective points of view.
I would also like to add that the parole-granting process is largely shrouded in secrecy. No one can tell you for sure just what they do consider.
Also: McCracken County Jail denied work, work training, education, 12-step meetings, treatment, and even church attendance in one instance, so most of my accomplishments were in Ricky’s World.
Offender Records Section- Parole
State office Building
Frankfort, KY 40601
From: Rachel Leatherman #218896
Fulton County Detention Center
2010 S. 7th Street
Hickman KY 42050
Re: Respectful request for parole
To Whom It May Concern:
I am a 48-year-old nonviolent offender and a registered nurse. I am responsible for my own actions, I fully accept my addiction, and I realize that contributing to it in any way is a serious crime.
I have put forth my very best effort to learn from this incarceration- the severe consequence of drug involvement, as well as a plan for living in recovery.
I have accomplished the following:
-steady work in the kitchen, 7 days a week, never quitting, never being fired.
-AA meeting attendance.
-I tutored a fellow inmate in math.
-Bible studies (certificates enclosed) through: Rock of Ages, Know Your Bible, International Prison Ministry, Croosroads, Emmaus, Pacific Islands Bible Institute, Purpose-Driven Life.
-weekly one-on-one sessions with a priest.
-self-reflection through artwork and writing.
I have made the following concrete steps toward a parole plan:
-continued psychiatric therapy (inquiry sent)
-ongoing 12-step involvement, and plans to be around supportive, sober people.
-return to school for training (if possible)
I am ready to be a positive part of my community on release, by being responsible, self-supporting and helpful to others.
I realize that sobriety is my first priority. I will choose to be around people who are supportive of my sobriety (as is my husband). I will not associate with people who drink and use.
I believe that I can use my incarceration experience to benefit others, by sharing my own experience.
Please consider me for parole.
Rachel Leatherman 218896
For anyone who is in a position of seeking parole, I think that it is important to maintain a clean institutional record. Joking around about rule breaking is one thing, but acting out and collecting write-ups may lead to parole deferment.
My disclaimer here is that I honestly do not know how the board makes these decisions. I do know that Class D nonviolent offenders do not meet face-to-face with the board, so many people write their letters and include supporting documents. Class Cs do meet with the board (I hear it’s kinda brutal).
Note that the letter is short.