Accountability Letter Bank


The Accountability Letter Bank (ALB) offers incarcerated individuals under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) an opportunity to write a thoughtful, appropriate apology letter to their victim/victim family member, with the assistance of approved program facilitators.   CDCR discourages incarcerated individuals from corresponding directly, or through a third party, with their victim or victim’s family. Apology letters are an important part of the restorative justice process and can serve a vital role in the healing of the victims, as well as the rehabilitation of the offender. Research shows that an incarcerated individual’s apology to their victims and others whom they have harmed have great potential within a restorative justice framework. Accountabilityand remorse can help those incarcerated accept responsibility and gain a true understanding of the emotional, physical and financial losses caused by the offense.

All approved accountability letters from qualifying programs, must be sent to the Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS) within the CDCR.   OVSRS will then notify the victim/victim family member that a letter has been received addressed to them. The victim(s)/survivor(s)/next of kin will choose when, and if, to receive the accountability letter from OVSRS. ALB is not intended to have any bearing on the participating individual’s status in the judicial, appellate, pardon/commutation, parole or corrections system. Additionally, participation in the ALB program does not constitute permission for the incarcerated individual to make additional contact with the victim or victim’s family.


  1. Allow the incarcerated population under the jurisdiction of CDCR to reach out through a qualifying program to those they have harmed and be accountable for the crime they have committed.
  2. Encourage interested incarcerated individuals to express remorse, develop empathy and accept full responsibility for the harm caused to the victim(s) and their family.
  3. Allow a safe place for victim(s)/survivor(s)/next of kin to receive the letter of accountability from the incarcerated person.   This allows the victim to control when and if they may want to receive the letter.
  4. Reduce the likelihood of possible re-victimization.


Letter Screening and Review

All accountability letters submitted to the ALB will be reviewed by the facilitator of the incarcerated individuals Victim Impact or Restorative Justice to ensure that they are not harmful to the victim. Accountability letters shall be returned to the incarcerated individual if deemed inappropriate.

Accountability letters should demonstrate and emphasize actions such as:

  1. Accepting responsibility
  2. Understanding the impact of the crime and the harm caused to the victim(s)/survivor(s)/next of kin and the community
  3. Developing empathy for their victims
  4. Learning skills to prevent their criminal behavior from re-occurring

Notice to victim/victim family

When OVSRS receives a qualifying letter from the program, OVSRS will mail a notification letter to the victim/victim family member that the letter is addressed to, if that person is registered to receive notification. The notification letter will inform the victim/victim family member that a letter has been received in the ALB their options.

Delivery of letter to victim/victim family

If the victim/victim family member contacts OVSRS, and wishes to receive the offender’s letter, they can choose the method in which to receive the accountability letter.

  1. Mail
    1. A letter from OVSRS will be mailed to the victim/victim family member with a sealed accountability letter from the incarcerated individual, so victim/victim family member can open when ready to do so.
  2. Email
    1. OVSRS will email the accountability letter to the victim/victim family member as an attachment so that it is opened when the victim is ready to do so.

OVSRS will scan the letter and keep an electronic copy on file in the event the victim/victim family member decides to receive the letter at a later date or requests another copy of the letter.

PLEASE NOTE: The incarcerated individual will not be informed of the victim/victim family member’s decision to receive the letter or not.

How to know when and if receiving the letter is the correct choice for the victim?

Only the victim can decide if reading the incarcerated person’s letter is the right personal choice for them.

Things to consider before making this decision – This may be an emotional time for the victim and they could experience feelings of grief and loss when they read a letter from the person responsible for harming them or a loved one.   It is recommended, that victims seek out a trusted support person or counselor to discuss your decision further. OVSRS can assist putting victims/victim family members in contact with a trained support person.

Some victims/survivors have reported experiencing a degree of healing when they hear that the offender is sincerely remorseful, acknowledging the harm and damage they caused.  Also, sometimes victims learn details of the crime that can decrease their fear and restore a sense of security.

If you would like more information about the Accountability Letter Bank, please contact our office at 1-877-256-6877 or by email at

More on Accountability Letter Bank

Inside CDCR – “Apology Letter Bank program visits VSP” – September 11, 2023

More CDCR Restorative Justice programs

Victim Offender Dialogue