If you have a family member incarcerated in a Texas prison, you might have to travel a considerable distance to visit him. If an inmate's close relative suffers from a medical issue which prevents long distance travel for visitation, a medical doctor can write a hardship letter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice requesting that the inmate be transferred to a more conveniently located facility, one less than 200 miles away.
Only inmates living more than 200 miles from the ill family member can be considered for a hardship transfer. The family member's doctor must write the hardship letter, not the inmate. The doctor must sign the letter and it must be written on the physician's letterhead. The letter must state that the family member can't physically travel long distances due to a medical condition. An inability to drive is not a valid reason for requesting a transfer. The relative with the medical problem must be an immediate family member -- spouse, parent, child, grandparent or sibling. While members of step and foster families qualify, cousins and other distant relatives do not. If the request is approved, the transfer occurs within three weeks to six months. If the request isn't approved, the family is notified by the TDCJ.
Not all inmates qualify for hardship transfers. The prisoner must not have had any disciplinary reports in the previous year and can't be incarcerated for a crime involving the family member requesting the transfer. If the inmate was convicted of a violent crime, he won't be transferred to the county in which any victim of that crime resides. The inmate must also want the transfer.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt writes regularly for various legal blogs. Her work has appeared in LegalZoom, USA Today and many other publications.