Transfers to another prison
Can I be transferred to another prison?
Corrections Act 2004, ss 53, 54
Yes. This could be done after you’ve applied to be transferred and the prison has agreed to your request, or the prison may decide for its own reasons to transfer you.
How do I apply for a transfer?
You can apply to be transferred, but this doesn’t mean this will automatically happen. You don’t have a right to be transferred to another prison. It depends on a number of things, including how many beds are available and whether you have a good reason for wanting to transfer.
Start by talking to your case manager. They’ll get you a Transfer Request form and can help you fill it out.
The manager of your unit will consider your case management plan and whether a transfer would be good or bad for you being reintegrated into the community when you’re released. The unit manager will pass the form on to the prison manager along with the unit manager’s recommendation about whether you should be allowed to transfer.
If the prison manager approves your application, the application will next be sent to the manager of the prison you want to transfer to. If this other prison manager approves it, then you’ll be transferred.
What are good reasons for being transferred?
Good reasons can include the following:
- to be closer to whānau
- a family member is very ill (this will probably need to be an immediate family member, such as your child, spouse/partner, mother or father, or brother or sister)
- you’re pregnant and you have a valid reason for wanting to give birth in a certain part of the country (but if you’re in prison for less than six weeks or you’re too pregnant to travel, you’re unlikely to be transferred).
Reasons for the prison deciding to order you to be transferred could include the following:
- your security classification has changed
- the other prison has the rehabilitation or reintegration programme you need – for example, a particular drug treatment programme, or the other prison may be in your home area so that being there will help you reintegrate back into your particular community (through day paroles and work to release programmes for example) and you’ll be closer to your support network in that community
- for your safety or another prisoner’s safety
- to reduce your chance of reoffending
- to get the medical care that you need
- if your current prison is too crowded
- to separate remand prisoners from sentenced prisoners, or to separate young prisoners from the general population
- to restore order or security to the prison after an incident
- while repairs or alterations are taking place at your current prison
- to be closer to a court that you need to appear at – in this case you could be moved to a prison or a police station, but you can only be held in a police station for seven days unless the court makes an order allowing a longer stay.
Will I be told in advance that I’m going to be transferred?
Yes. In most cases you should be told seven days before you’re transferred.
However, you may be given less notice than that if you’re transferred for one of the following reasons:
- for safety reasons
- to restore security or order at the prison
- because of prison overcrowding
- so that you can go to court.
Will I be able to let my whānau know I’m being transferred?
Yes, you must be given a reasonable opportunity to contact your family before you’re transferred. If you won’t see them before you’re transferred, then you must be allowed one free phone call so you can let them know.
If you’re transferred urgently and don’t get a chance to tell your whānau beforehand, then once you arrive at the new prison you must be allowed one free phone call to tell them where you are.
Am I allowed to know why I’m being transferred?
Yes. You can write a letter to the prison manager asking why you’ve been transferred and they must write back giving the reason. You must make your request within one month after you’re transferred, and the prison manager must respond within one month after your request.
What happens to my things when I’m transferred?
Corrections Regulations 2005, reg 39
Your personal property will be transferred with you, or shortly after. You should be given a copy of the property register to check and sign if everything is there. If there’s anything missing the prison manager must deal with this as soon as possible.
Can I be transferred to another prison in line with my new assigned gender?
Corrections Regulations 2005, reg 65
Yes. If your gender has been reviewed and changed to your nominated sex, then you must be held in a prison with prisoners of the same sex.
For more information, see the chapter “Starting your sentence”