Can You Transfer to a Different Jail, Prison?
Being locked up in jail or prison can be pretty inconvenient, especially if you're far away from family members. So can you transfer to a different correctional facility?
Jail or prison transfer requests can be based on a variety of factors, but they're not always granted. Generally, county, state, and federal prisons set their own rules for the administration of the correctional facilities they control.
Here's what you need to know about transferring to a different jail or prison:
Jail Transfer Requests
If you are in county jail awaiting trial or serving a shorter sentence, you can usually request to be either be sentenced to a different county's jail or to be transferred to a different jail, although your request will likely be at the discretion of the judge, and also may require the approval of the prosecutor and the facility you'd like to be transferred to.
You will also most likely need to have a reason other than just personal preference, such as:
- Concerns about your safety and security,
- A pressing need to be near a sick family member, or
- An extreme hardship such as not being able to confer with your lawyer. (That's what ex-NFL star and accused murderer Aaron Heranandez's lawyers argued in requesting a jail transfer last month, Boston's WBZ-TV reported.)
Prison Transfer Requests
If you have already been sentenced to prison, then your ability to transfer prisons will likely be determined by the rules of your state's department of corrections. Each state has its own rules, and they vary widely. Here are a few examples:
- In Florida, inmates can requests transfers based on security, health, or education. Inmates also may qualify for what is known as Good Adjustment transfer. A Good Adjustment transfer allows inmates to transfer facilities for other reasons than those normally considered (such as to be closer to family) by meeting certain behavioral and sentence-related criteria.
- Washington state allows inmates to request transfers in order to be closer to family, but the transfers are at the discretion of both the facilities in question and the Department of Corrections.
- Oklahoma generally does not allow inmates to be transferred just to be closer to relatives; the state's handbook for relatives of offenders notes that "transfers occur only to meet assessed program needs or when an offender incurs a security level modification."
So if you're unhappy with the jail or prison you've been assigned to, know that there may be ways to request a transfer to a different one. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help guide you through the process.
Editor's Note, July 19, 2016: This post was first published in July 2014. It has since been updated.
- Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
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- Court Order Halts Plan to Ship Prisoners Out of State (FindLaw's California Case Law Blog)
- How Do Inmates Buy Things in Jail, Prison? (FindLaw's Blotter)
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