Getting any kind of executive clemency in Tennessee takes work. As of 2016, it was estimated that roughly 150 people in the state apply each year and only three or four of those people succeed. Most are summarily denied before they even reach the governor’s desk — mostly because they don’t pass the screening criteria established by the Tennessee Board of Parole. The Parole Board reviews each application and decides whether or not to grant a formal hearing.

All that being said, asking for clemency is still a worthwhile process. You need to be patient, however, and you need to be thorough. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Get legal advice. The clemency process is convoluted and difficult to follow when you aren’t familiar with it. An experienced attorney is your best friend when it comes to this kind of appeal.
  • Don’t rush your application. You need to think about the “long game” when you’re filing for clemency. Take all the time you need to make certain that your application is without errors or gaps.
  • Take responsibility. You don’t stand a chance of obtaining clemency unless you can convince the authorities that you accept full responsibility for your past actions.
  • Get support. It helps to obtain letters of support from anybody who can help illustrate your value to society and the importance of clemency for you.
  • Be detailed. This is your chance to make yourself visible and have your voice heard. Explain how you have changed since your conviction, what you’ve done to reform and exactly how clemency would improve your life.

Typically, governors nationwide tend to wait until their term of office is almost over to issue pardons, so keep timing in mind as you move forward.