If a close relative of a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) inmate suffers a medical issue and cannot travel too far to see the inmate, their doctor can write a hardship letter to the agency to request a transfer. The inmate may be moved to a Texas prison facility closer to the ailing family member. If the inmate has a medical issue, they, too, can be moved closer to their relative.
Hardship Transfer in the State of Texas
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) can transfer an inmate to a facility closer to their immediate family member if their family member cannot visit them where they are currently incarcerated due to a medical issue.
When making a hardship transfer request, the family member must:
- Have a medical condition making long distance travel impossible. (That they cannot drive is not enough of a reason.)
- Get a physician’s note stating they have an inability to travel long distances due to a medical condition.
- Be an immediate family member, such as a spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, step-family or foster family. Cousins or other distant relatives are not considered immediately family members.
What to Include in the Hardship Letter
The hardship letter must include the inmate’s name and their TDCJ number. If the family does not know the inmate’s TDCJ number, they can do an inmate search on the TDCJ's website using the offender’s name.
The physician's note must be on their professional letterhead and sent to the Assistant Director for Classification and Records, Attn: Hardship Transfer, P.O. Box 99 Huntsville, TX 77342-0099.
Inmate Eligibility for a Hardship Transfer Request
For a TDCJ inmate transfer, an offender must meet certain criteria:
- They must be at least 200 miles from their family member in a permanent TDCJ unit.
- They must not have any disciplinary reports from the past 12 months.
- Custody level (TDCJ classification) of the inmate must be G1, G2 or G3. Inmates who are in more restrictive custody, such as G4 inmates, are ineligible unless the transfer is the result of a security precaution designator.
- Inmate relative must not be the victim of the inmate.
- If inmate is in state jail for a violent offense, they cannot be transferred to the county of the victim’s residence.
If the request is approved, the TDCJ will inform the inmate and schedule the transfer. If it denies the transfer, the family member will get a letter from the TDCJ stating the reason for denying the inmate transfer.
Seeking Another Review of the Transfer Request
If the family member has additional information, they can contact the State Classification Committee at the above address and ask the TDCJ to review the request again. They can also contact the agency by phone at 936-437-6271 for additional help with the hardship transfer.
Length of Time for Transfer to Take Place
The inmate transfer to another TDCJ facility will take place at any time from three weeks to six months after approval. It is more difficult to be transferred to a metroplex, like Austin, Houston or Dallas. The inmate relative should also be sure that the offender wants the transfer before making the request.
Medical Transfers for a TDCJ Inmate
A Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate with medical issues can be transferred at any time. The offender must first request a medical exam from the prison system’s unit health care provider. If the medical provider finds an issue that they believe requires an inmate transfer, they’ll file a transfer request with the Health Service Liaison, who then sends approval to the State Classification Committee.
The offender’s custody level, disciplinary history and sentence length do not affect this type of transfer. If approved, the transfer takes place within a week of the request.
If the TDCJ does not approve the transfer, and the offender or their family member has questions, they can write a letter to the agency’s Office of Professional Standards, P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342, or file a grievance with the TDCJ.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.