Decorated Veteran At Risk of Being Re-incarcerated Due to Parole Board’s Claimed Error
Sergeant Jerry Lett is a decorated veteran, former firefighter, and dedicated father who has led a life of service. He served his country with distinction for nearly a decade through multiple deployments to Germany, the Korean Demilitarized Zone, and Operation Desert Storm. After his return to Alabama, Sergeant Lett served the State of Alabama in the National Guard and the City of Dothan as a firefighter, where he performed rescue operations for people stuck in burning cars and high-rise buildings. He received multiple commendations over the course of his service — including three Army Achievement Medals, three Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, and many other awards. He is the loving father of two adult daughters, and a devoted son and member of his community.
Sergeant Lett’s service came with costs, as military and first responder service often do. Following a struggle with addiction, he was arrested for a drug offense and incarcerated. Throughout his incarceration, Sergeant Lett maintained a perfect institutional record. His classification summary from the Alabama Department of Corrections shows that he did not receive a single disciplinary report throughout his incarceration. His parole application was supported by every correctional officer who supervised him in a prison work detail. Sergeant Lett also earned numerous certificates for completing a range of prison programs and college courses.
SCHR represented Sergeant Lett at his parole hearing in September of 2020, where, in recognition of his military service and stellar institutional record, the Alabama Board granted parole and returned Sergeant Lett to his loving family and community in October. Tragically, Sergeant Lett is now in danger of being sent back to prison on Thursday, April 1 — not because he did anything wrong, but because the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles purportedly made a technical error in setting his parole hearing last year.
The Board is now seeking to revoke Mr. Lett’s parole and reincarcerate him because of its alleged failure to comply with the notice provisions for early parole consideration. If he is reincarcerated, he will likely have to wait years for another opportunity at freedom.
Sergeant Lett is in perfect compliance with the conditions of his parole. He meets with his parole officer once per week and checks in regularly with his case manager at the Veterans Administration. He keeps in regular touch with his daughters, one of whom is a security police officer in the United States Air Force. He also attends regular doctors’ appointments to treat his serious underlying health conditions, including advancing heart failure, hypertension, Type II diabetes, stomach ulcers, gout, and many other illnesses.
Both Sergeant Lett and his community have greatly benefited from his release. To reincarcerate a decorated veteran with serious health issues — who has been free and thriving in his community for over six months — would be a miscarriage of justice.
Multiple veterans have signed on to an open letter to the Board, urging them not to reincarcerate Sergeant Lett. “If reincarcerated due to a technical error beyond his control, Mr. Lett would be the first veteran in our combined experience who is returned to prison, despite doing everything asked of him on parole,” the letter reads. “Allowing Mr. Jerry Lett, a sick war veteran, to remain in the community is the only just response to these unique circumstances, and will show that this Board cares about and honors the service of Alabama’s veterans.”
Read the letter here.