The US is party to several treaties, enabling transfer of your conviction to another country which apply even if you’re a dual national of the United States as well. During the course of making several attempts, I may have accidentally become one of the nation’s leading experts on how not to get a Treaty Transfer ( ). The thing is, less than three percent of requests actually get approved. My final rejection arrived when I had served over six and a half years and was on my way to Halfway House – so don’t get your hopes up. The best way to ensure getting one is by planning in advance and working it into your Plea Agreement (which is not necessarily easy, trust me, I tried). Otherwise, it’s mostly a lost cause unless you’ve cooperated on a grand scale or are the most minor of players in your scheme.
There are 10 listed reasons for the existence of Treaty Transfers, the most important of which is purported to be “fostering the prisoner’s relationship with his or her children.” Hogwash! It’s a bunch of fancy lip service posted on a website to show that the US at least pretends to be involved in the process with other countries. I was separated from my children for most of my seven-and-a-half years of incarceration. This made it impossible to keep the family together as my kids struggled with deep emotional trauma and a father completely pulled from their lives. You’ll find that rejection notices come back the same way every time, “denied on the grounds of the Seriousness of the Offense and Serious Law Enforcement Concerns.” This, of course, pretty much applies to every single federal crime, wholly undermining the purported point of the entire Treaty Transfer process to begin with.
The process itself is as follows:
- You make a request to your Case Manager,
- He or she completes the form and sends it in to the International Prisoner Transfer Unit,
- The IPTU sends a letter to your AUSA asking if he or she has any objections (thus the value of putting the clause into your Plea Agreement, if you can),
- IPTU sends out notices to all known victims (if any), asking if they object,
- IPTU will review any information you provide (directly from you, through an attorney or from a family member) in addition to reviewing your case and PSR, and
- You’ll hear back from IPTU with a reply within 3-6 months.
The decision of the IPTU is final. There’s no right to appeal but you may make a direct “request for reconsideration” to the IPTU if your situation changes or if you believe they were unaware of a material fact in making their decision. You may also re-apply via your Case Manager two years from the date of a rejection.
Of course, I knew none of this at the outset and hired a former head US Attorney from the Miami office, only to waste $20,000 on his “connections” that got me absolutely nowhere. You don’t need an attorney and they will be of little help. You’re allowed to communicate directly with the IPTU anyway. I even tried to get my home country of Costa Rica to request me, to no avail. I’ve seen others do likewise. Treaty Transfers are granted on rare occasion, so it’s worth a shot. Maybe one day things will change – good luck.
 US Officer of Inspector General, in a 2015 report complaining that it’s woefully underused.