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  • Texas / How to Write a Hardship Letter

    Department of Corrections
    By Jade Blue, eHow Contributor

    http://www.ehow.com/how_8550525_writ...rrections.html


    Write a hardship letter to the Texas Department of Corrections to start the inmate transfer process. Hardship letters request that an inmate placed in state prison be moved to a facility accessible to immediate family members who are approved visitors, but are unable to travel great distances due to illness. The request allows inmates to receive family visitation on a constant basis. All letters must have appropriate documentation from a licensed physician. Facility directors review each request, but transfers are not guaranteed.

    Instructions
    • 1 Request that the attending physician write a letter clearly explaining all medical conditions and why long-distance travel is not possible. It takes up to 12 hours to reach some Texas state prisons. Have statements written on official office letterhead to expedite the verification process.
    • 2 Write a letter on white or cream 8.5-by-11 letter-sized writing paper requesting that the inmate be moved from their current location to another facility. There are over 60 state prisons in Texas. Clearly indicate the transfer is a hardship request, and state the relationship of the requester to the inmate. Ailing parents, children or spouses are considered for the transfer. Include the inmate's full name and inmate number. List desired transfer facility. If possible, give two or three desirable locations.
    • 3 Place the request and doctor's note inside of an envelope. Seal the envelope and address the the letter to the Correctional Institutions Division Director. Obtain the address from the Texas Department of Justice.
    • 4 Mail the letter, and request delivery confirmation, which allows a sender to contact the post office and obtain the delivery date of their letter.
    • 5 Wait to hear if the request was granted or denied. Some families have waited up to three months. Classification, which assesses an inmates risk of escaping, harming themselves or another person, factors strongly into granting a hardship transfer. The request may be denied if the desired transfer facility has no available space.



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  • #2
    Prisoner Requests for Unit Transfers

    Prisoner Requests for Unit Transfers
    by
    Yolanda M. Torres
    http://peopleagainstprisonabuse.com/...ttransfer.html


    Prisoners are often unhappy with their prison unit assignments. Their reasons range from the units being located in remote areas far away from their families and friends, to abusive guards, to poor medical treatment, to feeling and believing their safety and/or lives are in danger from other prisoners or prison guards. Sometimes prisoners want to transfer to a certain unit because it offers a particular educational or vocational programs not available at the prisoner?s assigned unit.
    As a matter of policy, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) does not allow prisoners or their families to select the units of assignment. Nor does the TDCJ make unit assignments based on proximity to family and friends.
    According to the TDCJ, each prisoner?s unit of assignment is determined on the basis of the prisoner?s total record, the prisoner?s medical and mental health needs, safety, security, age, type of offense, prior criminal record, and educational, vocational and work related needs. Each unit has a different profile that reflects age, security custodies and restrictions, medical and special programs, agriculture and industry programs. The prisoner?s needs are matched with the unit profiles for capability. The TDCJ?s prison units are spread across the state, from Amarillo to Beeville to El Paso to New Boston. The majority of the TDCJ?s units are in rural areas. Very few of the units are in metropolitan areas, and those that are in metropolitan areas are generally state jails, such as the Dawson State Jail in downtown Dallas.

    No Protected Interest in Prison Unit Assignments
    Prisoners do not have a protected interest in their prison unit assignments. See Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215 (1976). In Meachum, the Supreme Court held that:
    ?The initial decision to assign the convict to a particular institution is not subject to audit under the Due Process Clause, although the degree of confinement in one prison may be quite different from that in another. The conviction has sufficiently extinguished the defendant's liberty interest to empower the State to confine him in any of its prisons.
    ?Neither, in our view, does the Due Process Clause in and of itself protect a duly convicted prisoner against transfer from one institution to another within the state prison system. Confinement in any of the State's institutions is within the normal limits or range of custody which the conviction has authorized the State to impose. That life in one prison is much more disagreeable than in another does not in itself signify that a Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest is implicated when a prisoner is transferred to the institution with the more severe rules.?
    Meachum, 427 U.S. at 224-225. See also Jackson v. Cain, 864 F.2d 1235, 1250 (5th Cir. 1989) in which the Fifth Circuit held ?that life in one prison is much more disagreeable than in another does not in itself signify that a Fourteenth Amendment liberty interest is implicated when a prisoner is transferred to the institution with the more severe rules? and Biliski v. Harborth, 55 F.3d 160 (5th Cir. 1998) (holding that Texas prisoner-plaintiff failed to demonstrate that state law created a liberty interest requiring his transfer from county jail to the TDCJ). This means that a court cannot order a prison to transfer a prisoner to a different unit. See Davis v. Carlson, 837 F.2d 1318 (5th Cir. 1988) (holding that a court cannot order the transfer of a prisoner where there is no clear duty on the part of the prison to transfer said prisoner). Unit assignment is within the discretion of the TDCJ. Therefore, if you want to help a prisoner secure a unit transfer for any reason, you must utilize the TDCJ?s administrative procedure.

    Transfers Associated with Safety Issues
    When prisoners want to transfer units because of safety issues, they can utilize the ?Life Endangerment? process to request a unit transfer. Prisoners can initiate a ?Life Endangerment investigation? (also called an ?LID? or ?Safety Request? or ?Protection Request?) by either sending a written I-60 to or speaking to any ranking TDCJ official (sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, assistant warden, warden), or the unit gang intelligence officer (GI) and requesting protection and a unit transfer. Although the TDCJ claims that its non-ranking employees (?guards? a/k/a ?COs?) are trained to receive and process life endangerment and protection requests, this has not proven to be the case. In the past, the guards have either disregarded the safety requests, or simply mocked the prisoner for requesting protection. Such responses occur less frequently when the prisoner presents his protection request to a higher ranking TDCJ official.
    While certain situations are so urgent that it is not possible to submit an I-60 or other written request, a written request is recommended because if the prisoner is ultimately injured by the danger complained of, the written request will help the prisoner establish that the TDCJ had actual notice of the danger he faced and that TDCJ failed to protect him.
    If the prisoner claims that his life is in danger from other prisoners (i.e., a gang hit; potential sexual assault), the prisoner (the potential victim) will be ?locked up? (secured in a single cell) in ?PHD? (also called 11 Building?). ?PHD? is ?prehearing detention.? PHD is a housing and custody status reserved for prisoners who are waiting to go to ?court? (internal disciplinary hearing) for a prison rule infraction. However, PHD is also used to for prisoners awaiting action on a safety request.
    After the prisoner is locked up in PHD, the Unit Classification Committee (UCC) will ?investigate? the matter and make a recommendation to grant or deny the unit transfer request. The investigation is cursory and the TDCJ operates under the premise that the requesting prisoner is trying to manipulate the process to get a unit transfer for some untoward reason. The TDCJ begins its ?investigation? by pressuring the complaining prisoner to ?voluntarily? sign a ?waiver? of the Life Endangerment/safety request. If the TDCJ can get the prisoner to execute a waiver, it does not have to proceed with the investigation and can simply return the prisoner to his original housing assignment. The executed waiver is placed in the prisoner?s unit classification file and can and will be used to insulate the TDCJ from liability if the prisoner is assaulted when released from PHD and returned to his housing assignment.
    Upon completion of its investigation, the Unit Classification Committee will vote on whether to grant the transfer request. If the UCC votes to grant the transfer request, then the request goes to the State Classification Committee (SCC) in Huntsville and the SCC will vote on whether to concur with the UCC. The SCC has the final say on a unit transfer request. However, if the UCC recommends a unit transfer and the SCC votes against a unit transfer, the Unit Warden has the authority to appeal the decision, and the prisoner has the discretion to appeal the decision through the TDCJ?s utterly perfunctory grievance procedure and file a Step 1 grievance (also called a Step 1 appeal). When the Step 1 grievance/appeal is denied (not if, but when), he must file a Step 2 grievance (also called a Step 2 appeal). For a detailed description of the TDCJ?s grievance procedure, see Wendell v. Asher, 162 F.3d 887, 891 (5th Cir. 1998).
    The TDCJ routinely denies Step 1 and Step 2 grievances regardless of the merits of a prisoner?s complaint. Regardless of what the TDCJ may state publicly, its unwavering position in administrative matters is that (1) its employees never lie; and (2) prisoners always lie. The TDCJ gives absolutely no weight to a prisoner?s word. Because most allegations come down to a prisoner?s word versus a guard?s word, the prisoner will always lose.
    Nonetheless, there are two reasons it is important for prisoners to use the grievance procedure. First, for issues that can be taken to court, the Prison Litigation Reform Act and Chapter 14 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code (Inmate Litigation) require the exhaustion of administrative remedies. Second, and equally important, when prisoners file grievances, the complaints are recorded and copies of the grievances are placed in their classification files for future reference. This paper trail can help the prisoner in future individual or class litigation.

    Transfers After Disciplinary Infractions
    Sometimes, when a prisoner has been charged with a serious prison disciplinary infraction such as assaulting an officer, or assaulting another prisoner, the TDCJ will transfer the prisoner to another unit. In these cases the transfer is to avoid future altercations between the prisoner and the guard, or the prisoner and the rival prisoner?s associates.
    Although the reality is that many prison guards are verbally and physically and sexually threatening and abusive, the TDCJ will never concede that a prisoner is in danger from TDCJ staff. Therefore, when this very common situation presents itself, it must be handled with extreme tact. You cannot put the TDCJ into a position where transferring the prisoner would be a concession that the prisoner is in danger from prison guards. The approach to these types of cases varies depending on the facts of each situation and the prisoner?s institutional and disciplinary history, and his custody status. For example, TDCJ considers administrative segregation its most secure level of confinement; therefore, it rarely grants an ad seg prisoner?s LID transfer request because to do so would be a concession that ad seg prisoners have access to each other, have the ability to get out of their cells unescorted, and that administrative segregation is not as ?secure? as the TDCJ wants the public to believe. See Cantu v. Jones, 293 F.3d 839 (5th Cir. 2002), in which the Fifth Circuit upheld a jury verdict in a favor of an ad seg prisoner who alleged that two prison guards intentionally allowed another ad seg prisoner out of his cell to assault him with a razor blade.

    Hardship Transfers

    There is an administrative process for prisoners who want to change units because their close family members are too ill and/or elderly to travel a great distance to visit the prisoner. Like all transfer requests, the TDCJ has the discretion to grant the request, but it does not have to. And no court will order the TDCJ to transfer a prisoner on grounds of proximity to family members. If you want to make a request for a unit transfer so that a prisoner can be near a family member who is elderly, ill, or who cannot travel a great distance to visit the prisoner, the request should be sent to Mr. Doug Dretke, the TDCJ Director of the Correctional Institutions Division, P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, Texas 77342-0099. Send the request via certified mail, return receipt requested and include a letter from a physician describing the condition of the family member and why and how travel will aggravate the condition. If there is more than one doctor involved, get a letter from each doctor. Have the doctor be as specific as possible when he states that extended travel is either impossible or extremely difficult because of the individual?s medical condition. In the request, explain the reason for the request and identify all of the circumstances and problems involved. Remember that emotional arguments are lost on the TDCJ. The argument should be factual and supported by tangible evidence from a medical professional. Request that the TDCJ notify you of its decision via U.S. Mail. Neither the freeworld person nor the prisoner will be allowed to select the unit where the prisoner is transferred (if he is transferred), so do not recommend or suggest individual units for transfer.

    The Director of the Correctional Institutions Division will review the letter and forward it to the Director?s Review Committee (?DRC?) which will make a decision on the request. The DRC will consider a number of factors in making its decision, including the prisoner?s custody status, the prisoner?s disciplinary history, availability of housing, seriousness of the medical condition, and the age of family member. If the prisoner is in administrative segregation, the transfer will likely be denied.
    At some point in the process, the prisoner will be interviewed to confirm that he wants a unit transfer. The whole process, including the transfer, can take two to three months.
    If the transfer is not approved, the prisoner should file a Step 1 and Step 2 grievance and the prisoner?s family and/or other freeworld support can contact their state representatives or state senators and request their help in obtaining a transfer. In the past, the TDCJ has honored the requests of state representatives who requested that a particular prisoner be transferred. However, the TDCJ is not obligated to honor the requests, so there is no guarantee it will do so in the future. The ?public official? card should only be used after the exhaustion of all available remedies.

    Final Note on Unit Transfer Requests
    When seeking a unit transfer, the important things to remember are: (1) the TDCJ has sole discretion on unit transfer requests; (2) a court cannot compel the TDCJ to assign a prisoner to a particular unit; (3) the TDCJ will never concede that a prisoner is in danger from TDCJ staff; and (4) TDCJ rarely grants an ad seg prisoner?s unit transfer request.



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    • #3
      A hardship transfer is usually considered when
      there is a medical condition that impacts the
      immediate family member's ability to travel to
      visit the offender. Generally, transfer facility,
      state jail, intermediate sanction facility,
      substance abuse, pre-parole and pre-release
      offenders shall not be eligible for transfer
      consideration. Requests from the offender
      family member for an inter-facility transfer
      should be directed to the appropriate unit
      Warden or to the Assistant Director for
      Classification and Records. The Assistant
      Director for Classification and Records may
      grant an inter-facility transfer if the following
      criterion is met.

      Hardship transfer requests
      may be submitted to the Assistant Director for
      Classification and Records at P.O. Box 99,
      Huntsville, Texas 77342-0099; Attn: Hardship
      Transfer.


      ♦ Requests must come from an immediate
      family member. Immediate family is
      defined as natural or adoptive mother
      and stepmother; natural or adoptive
      father and stepfather; natural or adoptive
      children or stepchildren; natural or
      adoptive step siblings; spouse (common
      law or ceremonial); grandparents and
      grandchildren; persons related by
      marriage; aunt or uncle; or foster parents,
      the guardian of an offender's minor child,
      to include parent of the child.

      * Requests made on medical hardship must
      pertain to a family member and
      documentation from the attending
      physician of the family member's inability
      to travel long distance is required. Such
      documentation should be on the
      physician's letterhead and signed by the
      physician.

      ♦ The offender's currently assigned facility
      must be greater than 200 miles from the
      requested area.

      ♦ Prison sentenced offenders should be
      Line Class I or higher.

      ♦ Offenders who are G4 or a more
      restrictive custody are ineligible unless
      the G4 custody is due to a security
      precaution designator.

      ♦ Prison sentenced offenders should have
      no major disciplinary convictions for the
      preceding twelve months.
      _______________________________________

      This is from TDCJ website Article titled "What is the process for requesting a hardship transfer?"
      http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/faq/faq_cid.html#hardship

      Special consideration for transfer may be made when an offender's family has medical problems limiting the family member's ability to travel long distances. To apply for this special consideration you need to obtain a letter from the attending doctor stating the medical problems and how it impacts the ability to travel. The letter should be verifiable, on the doctor's letterhead, and signed by the physician. The physician’s letter should be attached to a written request for hardship transfer and mailed to the Classification and Records Office, Attention OCIM, P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, TX, 77342. Although submitting a request does not guarantee the offender will be moved to a unit closer to the family, you can be assured the agency will give careful consideration to the request

      This is from TDCJ website Pages 15-16
      http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/document..._Offenders.pdf

      HARDSHIP TRANSFERS
      A hardship transfer is usually considered when there is a medical condition that impacts the immediate family member’s ability to travel to visit the offender. Generally, transfer facility, state jail, intermediate sanction facility, substance abuse, pre-parole and pre-release offenders shall not be eligible for transfer consideration. Requests from the offender family member for an inter-facility transfer should be directed to the assistant director for Classification and Records. The assistant director for Classification and Records may grant an inter-facility transfer if the following criterion is met. Hardship transfer requests may be submitted to the Assistant Director for Classification and Records at P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, Texas 77342-0099; Attn: Hardship Transfer.
      Requests must come from an immediate family member. Immediate family is defined as natural or adoptive mother and stepmother; natural or adoptive father and stepfather; natural or adoptive children or stepchildren; natural or adoptive stepsiblings; spouse (common law or ceremonial); grandparents and grandchildren; persons related by marriage; aunt or uncle; or foster parents, the guardian of an offender’s minor child, to include parent of the child.

      Requests for a medical hardship must pertain to a family member and requires documentation from the attending physician of the family member’s inability to travel long distances. Such documentation should be on the physician’s letterhead and signed by the physician.

      The offender’s current unit of assignment must be greater than 200 miles from the requested area.

      Prison sentenced offenders should be Line Class I or higher.

      Offenders who are G4 or a more restrictive custody are ineligible unless the G4 custody is due to a security precaution designator.

      Prison sentenced offenders should have no major disciplinary convictions for the preceding twelve months

      For the grievance process here is what is on TDCJ web site has about that.

      How does an offender appeal a disciplinary case he/she received?

      As stated in the TDCJ Offender Orientation Handbook, given to each offender upon entry into the prison system, offenders have the right to appeal any disciplinary decision made by the unit. This appeal is done by using the offender grievance procedure and submitted to the warden or facility administrator. If the offender is not satisfied with the warden or facility administrator's decision, the offender may then file the next level of grievance for appeal purposes. The Counsel Substitute will assist offenders with an appeal if they request assistance. Offenders are encouraged to use informal measures to address concerns at the unit level, where applicable.
      Last edited by TexasDust; 04-12-2013, 12:23 PM.



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