Prisoners' rights

All prisoners have basic rights when they serve their sentence inside a prison. They have the right to be treated with humanity, dignity and respect.

All prisons and youth detention centres are inspected once a month by an official visitor, who is appointed by the Minister for Justice.

Prisoners can talk to their prisoner support officer or their Aboriginal liaison officer if they have any questions.

Legal help

Under the law, prisoners can talk to a lawyer or other legal representative. They can call them for free from prison and arrange visits.

Lawyers can also bring other people such as translators to help give advice.

Right to information

All prisoners and community-based offenders can request records of their personal and non-personal information.

To request your records, you can make a Freedom of Information request.

Adult prisoners

Adult prisoners can also request records by sending a written request to the address below:

Information Coordinator
Department of Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722
Darwin NT 0801

Representatives of young people

If you're providing legal or other services to a young person in a detention centre, you can also directly request access to some of your client’s records. This includes support and case management plans.

The information should relate to the services you're providing and the client must agree to their information being shared.

Email your request together with a signed authority from your client to either:

Medical help

Prisoners are given a full medical examination on arrival by a medical officer. This includes a record of previous medical history and medication they are currently taking.

Prisoners have access to the same health care that is available to the community in the same part of the Northern Territory (NT).

If a prisoner is critically ill or injured, their next of kin, lawyer, and anyone else who has can make decisions on their behalf will be notified.


Prisoners who have a complaint can:

  1. Talk to their sector or block officer, or supervising officer.
  2. If the issue isn’t resolved, the prisoner can submit a superintendent’s parade request form to speak to the superintendent’s delegate.
  3. For serious complaints, the prisoner can inform the Ombudsman NT using the prisoner telephone system, or contact their lawyer.
  4. For very serious complaints, the prisoner can speak with the official visitor, who represents the Minister for Justice.

Prisoners should allow time for complaints to be resolved.


Sentenced prisoners have the right to apply to transfer to another prison in another state.

Prisoners must put together a case to explain why they should be transferred.

It can include information on all of the following:

  • family support
  • medical reasons
  • job opportunities after their sentence.

The transfer means all of the following:

  • the sentence is transferred to the receiving state or territory
  • the new state or territory is financially responsible for the prisoner
  • the new state or territory is responsible for the prisoner’s welfare
  • their eligibility for parole stays the same.

The application needs to be approved by all of the following:

  • NT Department of Attorney-General and Justice.
  • NT Minister for Justice.
  • NT Minister for Justice in the receiving state or territory.

If the application is not approved, the prisoner can't reapply for 12 months.

Transfer applications can take several months to process.

Last updated: 21 October 2020

Share this page: