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United States Marshals Service's Prisoner Medical Care

Report No. 04-14
February 2004
Office of the Inspector General

Appendix V
USMS Policies and Procedures
for Transporting Federal Prisoners

  • Prisoners will be fully restrained when transported by the USMS. Full restraints consist of handcuffs, waist chains, and leg irons.
  • Visual contact with prisoners must be continually maintained
  • If a rest stop is necessary, police facilities should be used when possible. Rest areas along the highways should be avoided. Facilities are to be selected at random after departing thoroughfares.
  • Handcuff and leg iron keys will not be carried on the same key ring as vehicle ignition keys or other general use keys.
  • While in transit, prisoners will not be permitted to: (a) select places routes of travel, rest stops, or influence in any other manner the travel itinerary; (b) possess or expend any funds, consume tobacco products, or place telephone calls; (c) converse with anyone except other prisoners and custodial personnel; or (d) possess or consume medication, except that prescribed by a physician or as indicated by the custodial facility. If medication must be taken, a deputy will maintain custody and dispense the medication as needed.42 If administered by hypodermic syringe, a deputy will maintain custody of the syringe and issue it as needed. The prisoner will inject the medication, or it will be administered by medical personnel.
  • Districts will establish procedures addressing contingencies for the following situations that may occur during transportation, including an action plan for each route routinely taken by the district.
(a) Prisoner illness or injury
(b) Disruptive prisoner
(c) Vehicle accident or breakdown
(d) Prisoner escape or attempted escape
(e) Alternative routes to every facility
  • Deputies shall not engage in any unauthorized activities or unscheduled stops while transporting prisoners. However, if there is a risk of death or bodily injury to a prisoner, USMS personnel or a citizen, deputies may stop or alter routes to render assistance in emergency situations. District management will be notified immediately for guidance or assistance. Under no circumstances will a prisoner or prisoners be left out of visual contact of the transporting deputies.
  • Prisoner escapes/attempted escapes will be reported immediately to district management and USMS Communications Center. The Communications Center will notify the Investigative Services Division and Prisoner Services Division duty officers.
  • If a prisoner is injured or becomes sick following an arrest, the prisoner will be transported to a medical facility or examined by a medical professional prior to processing. The following security, control, and transportation procedures will apply:

    1. Prisoners will be searched. Control over the prisoner will be maintained at all times. The prisoner will be restrained unless there are compelling medical reasons.

    1. If emergency medical technicians (local public safety EMT/EMS) respond to the scene, the deputies may request that the EMT/EMS transport the prisoner to an appropriate medical facility, if necessary. At least one deputy will remain with the prisoner during transportation by ambulance. A second deputy will follow the ambulance and be part of the security team while the prisoner is being treated. If an ambulance is not required, deputies will transport the prisoner to and from a medical facility, if necessary, and remain with the prisoner during treatment.

Medical appointments

The time and place of medical appointments should not be known to the prisoner. The minimum staffing required for medical appointments is one-on-one plus one. The detention facility staff or a hospital guard service may move a prisoner to the hospital when emergency medical conditions exist or for routine outpatient care. The district will be notified when a move has been made by the detention facility or guard service. Removal for routine medical care may not be initiated without prior approval of the district management. Visual contact with prisoners will be maintained at all times.

High-threat or high profile moves

Districts will establish a procedure for planning and conducting high-threat prisoner movements within the district. Any movement or treatment that could be construed as "special" should be documented to have a record of activity. The documentation and procedure shall include, but not be limited to, dates and times, chain-of-command, routes to be taken, resources to be used, alternative plans/routes, and the reasons for special measures.

Incident reports

Significant incidents pertaining to a prisoner in the custody of the USMS will be immediately reported to the district management. This would include: escape, escape attempts, the use of force against prisoners, vehicle accidents, hijacking or attempted hijacking of any vehicle used for prisoner movement, and threats and actual attacks upon prisoners or escorting personnel by external sources.

  1. The policy is directed at deputy marshals and contracted hospital guards.