Domicile is a voluntary status. Therefore, a forcible change in a person’s state of residence does not alter his/her domicile. Hence, the domicile of a prisoner before s/he was imprisoned is presumed to remain his/her domicile while s/he is in prison[i]. The presumption is rebuttable. For instance, a prisoner might decide s/he wanted to live in another state when s/he was released and the federal prison authorities might therefore assign him/her to a prison in that state and that would be the state of his/her domicile[ii].
Although an inmate is capable of electing to make the place of his/her incarceration his/her new domicile, in the absence of proof of such intent, the inmate’s involuntary incarceration creates a presumption that s/he intends no change in domicile[iii]. If there is no other forum with a similar degree of interest, the degree of attachment between the inmate and the institution may give rise to resident status by operation of law[iv].
[i] Denlinger v. Brennan, 87 F.3d 214 (7th Cir. Ind. 1996).
[ii] Sullivan v. Freeman, 944 F.2d 334 (7th Cir. Ill. 1991).
[iii] Bolton v. Krantz, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 193 (Mass. App. Ct. 2002).
[iv] District of Columbia v. H. J. B., 359 A.2d 285 (D.C. 1976).