Administrative Remedies in the Bureau of Prisons
The Administrative Remedy system is an idea that pervades throughout most all prison systems within the United States. It was created to keep prisons in compliance with federal laws which protect inmates against 8th Amendment violations for cruel and unusual punishment. The implementation also gives the appearance that a prison will hear and resolve grievances from its inmates.
This appearance is usually an illusion. Administrative Remedies work very infrequently and, if they do, it is only because that institution was so far out of legal compliance that a change needed to occur in order to prevent serious repercussions from the judicial and regulatory government above it.
Administrative Remedies – A Necessary Evil
It is understandable why the federal court system requires these remedies to be tried and exhausted. An attempt must be made by the inmate to resolve his or her complaints within the prison system before getting the courts involved. Otherwise the court system would be filled with requests for small things like more toilet paper or other things of equally low priority (to a federal judge).
However, there is normally no relief that comes from doing administrative remedies. The Bureau of Prisons is especially adept at stalling, delaying, ‘losing’ forms, and pushing time-frames so the inmate appears to have not properly used the remedy system and therefore cannot file a lawsuit.
All administrative remedies must be completed within guidelines set by the Bureau of Prisons before legal action can formally be taken in civil rights lawsuits, §2241 habeas filings, and certain sentencing reduction motions.
A good example of a sentence reduction motion is the tsunami of Compassionate Release requests made during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Both §2241 complaints about the prison system’s handling of disease prevention measures and §3582(c)(1)(A) requests have “exhaustion” requirements for administrative remedies.
If the BOP can frustrate this process, it can create an endless cycle of remedies that traps an inmate in bureaucratic red-tape making legal remedies impossible. Or, at least, that appears to be the game that gets played.
There is Hope
There is an upside, though. Knowing the exact laws which tell the BOP how these remedies must be processed gives a legally sound shortcut through the games.
A critical point in establishing a federal lawsuits is finishing these remedies, and PCR Consultants can show you and your inmate-loved-one just how to do it and avoid wasting precious weeks haggling with a system that is built to scramble the remedy system.
Track the times administrative remedies were filed/mailed. Track when the responses are due. Send follow-up remedies to late/delayed responses from the Bureau of Prisons. Write down all of these dates, then present them to Courts when the BOP inevitably messes with the process to frustrate litigation.
Only the inmate attempting relief can beat the BOP at its own game. There are many resources to help with this process, including guidebooks and worksheets to keep track of filings. Stay up-to-date and always, always take notes.