Those of you who know Mark from Coding in the Clink–the small, wiry guy who is amazingly quick in the head and who creates great computer animations–will be interested in this: after serving 20 years of a 15-to-life sentence, he’s coming up for parole for the second time in December 2013.
That means that the Ohio Parole Board, as it makes its decision on whether to parole him or whether to give him another five years in prison, will be looking for letters from people who know him better than they do.
Nobody from Coding in the Clink knows Mark well enough to be able to tell the Parole Board whether he’s a good person or not, whether he’s truly remorseful for his crime, whether he should be released, or anything like that. However, most of you know him well enough to say that if he’s evaluated to be a good person, if he’s evaluated to have been properly rehabilitated, if he turns out to be a good risk for release, then he has the skills to be employable on the outside as a software developer. That does-he-have-marketable-skills question is an important one to the folks on the Parole Board, and if you’re of a mind to answer it in the affirmative, you could be a big help to Mark with comparatively little effort.
If you’re like me, though, you’ve never written a letter to the Parole Board and the concept is a little intimidating. What should the letter look like, to whom should it be sent, and what are the consequences?
Here’s an entry on Yahoo Voices that explains the concepts and gives a generic example. Here’s a forum thread explaining how somebody wrote an actual letter to the Ohio Parole Board.
Unfortunately, you can’t wait until December to send the letter. There are various preparations that have to be made before the hearing, so if you decide to do this, the letter needs to be in the hands of the Parole Board before mid-November if it’s to have any effect on this upcoming hearing.
Of course, some folks who’ve never been part of Coding in the Clink really don’t understand what we do or why we do it, and I can imagine that some of those people might be of a mind to actively sabotage Mark’s quest for parole if they knew enough about him to write a letter of their own. Therefore, I’ll withhold specifics like his last name, his DOC number, and the exact address where the letter should be sent from this blog post. If you’re of a mind to write a letter for him, send me email at dnwiebe@gmail_com (replace the underscore with a dot), and if I remember you from Coding in the Clink I’ll send you back the specifics. (If you’ve paired with him at CITC and you have something bad to say about him to the Parole Board, that’s fine with me, as long as you actually have some experience with him. I’m just trying to filter out the folks who just generally believe without experience that all prisoners are scum and should rot in a cage.)