How to Request a Prison Transfer While Incarcerated

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When a person is incarcerated, there is an evaluation process used to determine the appropriate type of prison and custody level. Once the destination prison is assigned, this is generally where the inmate serves out his or her time. However, there are several valid reasons for an inmate to request and be granted a prison transfer to a different facility. Here are the basics to assessing the requirements and procedures for a prison transfer.

Know When to Request a Prison Transfer While Incarcerated

Consider Geography

Take geography into consideration. Prisoners incarcerated in facilities far away from their families can cause hardships, particularly if the family's access to transportation is limited.

Factor in Age

Factor in age. Young offenders placed in adult prisons may experience severe isolation and limited program participation due to safety concerns, and could be eligible for a transfer to a juvenile facility.

Consider Health Status

Consider your health status. It is reasonable to request a transfer to another prison if certain medical conditions exist that the current facility cannot adequately address.

Exercise First Amendment Rights

Exercise your First Amendment rights. While it is rare, some Native American and Muslim inmates, for instance, have successfully rallied for a prison transfer by arguing the assigned facility could not accommodate their religious practices.

Check International Protocol

Check international protocol. U.S. laws dictate that foreign nationals incarcerated in the United States may request to serve out their sentences in their home countries, provided there is a treaty in effect between the two countries (see Resources below).

Take Steps to Request a Prison Transfer

File a Written Transfer Request

File a written transfer request with your case manager, who will then forward the request to the classification committee for review. Usually, an interview between the committee and inmate will follow.

Understand the Warden's Authority

Understand that the warden will have the final say in granting or denying a transfer request.

File an Appeal if Denied

File an appeal with the classification committee if the transfer request is denied.

Solicit Assistance from the ACLU

Solicit assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union if substandard conditions exist at the facility where you are incarcerated and your request for a transfer has been denied (see Resources below).


  • Follow proper procedures when requesting a transfer. If you cannot provide an adequate reason for the transfer or fail to follow the established process, your request may be denied.

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