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U.S. Marshals Service

Western District of Tennessee

Prisoner Visits to Deathbed or Private Viewing


A.  General:

1.  USMS must have a court order to produce a prisoner for a deathbed visit or to attend a private viewing of a deceased family member. The family member must be an immediate family member, which is defined as the father, mother, husband, wife, child, brother, or sister of the prisoner. The U.S. Marshal may expand the definition of immediate family member when it involves stepparents, aunts, uncles, or other individuals who performed a parental role or who resided with the prisoner in a family type relationship. This relationship must clearly be established to the satisfaction of the U.S. Marshal.

2.  Prisoners will not be produced for funeral observances for a deceased family member due to security concerns. Having family members or friends present could likely impact the behavior of the prisoner and increase the possibility of escape attempt or assaultive behavior. Providing the proper security for such an environment is beyond the capability of the district’s available resources.

3.  USMS, with a court order, will produce the prisoner for a private viewing. The viewing is to be arranged by USMS at a secure time when other family members or friends will not be in attendance due to the concerns outlined above. Family, friends, nor the attorney will receive any advance notice concerning the date or time of the visit. The viewing will be limited to the prisoner, the transporting deputy marshals, and the funeral director.


4.  USMS, with a court order, will produce the prisoner for a deathbed visit with a immediate family member that meets the criteria outlined in this memorandum. The deathbed visit will be limited to the prisoner, the transporting deputy marshals, the dying family member, and necessary medical personnel. In the rare instance that the dying family member is not in a medical facility, the prisoner will not be produced to a private setting situation such as a private home. Such a production would be impossible for USMS to control in a safe and secure manner.

5.  USMS cannot honor requests for deathbed or private viewings from state or local prisoners under the temporary custody of USMS by writ without the permission of the loaning agency. These prisoners are loaned to USMS and the federal courts solely for the purpose of the specific court appearance. It will be the responsibility of the defense attorney to contact the loaning agency and seek written permission of the loaning agency prior to petitioning the Court for an order. This signed document must then be provided to USMS as soon as possible in order for USMS to begin making arrangements to produce the prisoner. Failure to do so could result in USMS not being able to make timely arrangements with the funeral home or medical facility. The signed document of permission must also be referenced in the court order.

6.  The prisoner, his or her family, or other associate will repay the anticipated costs of USMS staff, transportation, and per diem required to accomplish the visit and must agree in writing to pay any additional costs not anticipated but incurred by the USMS in the performance of the visit. All costs directly related to these special types of productions are to be collected in advance of the trip.

7.  The prisoner will remain properly restrained at all times during transportation to and from the deathbed visit or private viewing and during the deathbed visit or private viewing consistent with USMS policy on restraining prisoners. The transporting personnel may terminate the visit at any time if conditions indicate a security problem that threatens the custody of the prisoner or the safety of the public or USMS personnel.

B.  Procedures for Obtaining a Special Production: 

1.  The defense attorney is requested to first notify the United States Marshals Service Operations Unit with their intent to pursue a court order for a deathbed visit or a private viewing and check to determine if the prisoner is in on a writ. This step is critical and if not followed could result in USMS not being able to produce the prisoner in a timely manner. If the prisoner is in on a writ, the defense attorney must seek the written permission of the loaning agency per #5 above. The defense attorney should also contact the Assistant U.S. Attorney handling the case.


2.  USMS will then advise the AUSA on whether or not a writ exists or if there are risk factors involved with the subject prisoner, and if so, inform the AUSA of the basis for the determination of the risk factors. If there are no writs or risk factors, USMS will have no objections to the special production and inform the AUSA of such. This is not to say the AUSA may have other reasons for objections based upon factors unknown to USMS.

3.  The AUSA will then inform the defense attorney of any objections (if there are any) to the special production. If a petition is made to the court, the U.S. Marshal shall request the court through the U.S. Attorney’s Office, for a hearing on the matter if there are objections.

4.  If the AUSA decides not to object to the request for a special production, the defense attorney will then inform the prisoner or prisoner’s family or associate of the procedures for prepaying the anticipated costs of USMS for the production.

5.  Once the anticipated costs of the special production have been pre-paid by either cashier’s check or money order, and a court order directed by a District Judge to the U.S. Marshal, the U.S. Marshal will then direct his personnel to produce the prisoner for the deathbed visit or private viewing. is an official site of the U.S. Federal Government, U.S. Department of Justice