Prisoners' Rights: Prisoner Transfers

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Sponsors: Illinois Institute for Community Law
Illinois Legal Aid Online
Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Time: 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Speakers: James P. Chapman, Illinois Institute for Community Law

Illinois Institute for Community Law

James P. Chapman discusses issues involved in prisoner transfers, including the discretion of prison administration, exceptions and retaliatory transfers, as well as elements of a cause of action and questions of proof.

*Since this video was made, there have been significant legal developments which may impact this subject.

The United States Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit have stated that prisoners do not have a constitutional right to remain in one institution over another, as "prisoners possess neither liberty nor property [interests] in their classifications and prison assignments. States may move their charges to any prison in the system." DeTomaso v. McGinnis, 970 F.2d 211, 212 (7th Cir. 1992) (citing Montanye v. Haymes, 427 U.S. 236 (1976)). See also Meachum v. Fano, 427 U.S. 215, 224 (1976) (the Constitution does not guarantee placement in a particular prison).

The exception to this rule is that if the transfer is to a prison which imposes restrictions which are “atypical and significantly more restrictive” than those usually found in prison, then the prisoner has a right to a hearing. See Sandin v. Conner 515 U.S. 472 (1995) and Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209 (2005). To date, this exception has been applied to transfers to supermax prisons (in Illinois, this means Tamms Correctional Center). See Westefer v. Snyder, Civil No. 00-162-GPM (S.D. Ill. decided July 20, 2010). However, if conditions are bad enough, the same ruling might apply to transfers to other prisons.

Last Updated: 04/13/2005

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