Because most of us long to have our incarcerated family members and/or friends incarcerated as nearby as possible for the prisoner's own well-being, but also for the comfort and financial survival of the family outside, then news of a transfer to a facility nearer to home is a blessing and this is more common when a release date nears. But since most transfer activities occur in a communication blackout even this transfer can be stressful until we know again where our loved one is housed.
Most often transfers do not bring a prisoner closer to family, but rather increase family anxiety, expense and further fracture the very connections that reduce recidivism. Even attorneys often must work to track down a transferred federal prison inmate who, with no warning, lands many hundreds of miles from family and representation. For inmates with failing health, mental illness, developmental disabilities or who do not speak a lot of English all this causes greater distress not just for the prisoner, but for their loved ones. Of course, the poorer the family of the incarcerated, the greater the burden.
And I know from personal experience that the timing of transfers can be both the result of clerical error and disruptive to rehabilitative treatment plans for prisoners, and for families and facility staff.
So if you are being a supportive friend of someone dealing with the incarceration of a loved one and you find that person pulling her hair or babbling in frustration, muttering "we've lost Charlie" do not be alarmed. And this information may help: a web search for "inmate finder for STATE" or "federal prisoner finder" may provide a lead...or not. Most states have web-based inmate finders and many county or city jails have also found it useful to support unlinked boards, but if there might be transfer to various jurisdictions (say two counties and the state with federal or city witness subpoenas) causing the transfer, it may still be a bit of a job.
But please persevere, for a note from family or friends can be truly redemptive for someone who feels less than worthless and wholly adrift in a sea of confusion.