Once an inmate enters the federal prison system the hope is that policies and regulations are followed in a manner consistent with the law. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
If a situation arises where an inmate believes that they are not receiving the relief due to them they need to pursue what is called an “administrative remedy.”
The administrative remedy is the process by which grievances are addressed by the BOP prior to an inmate filing a case in Court.
There are 4 stages to the process ranging from “BP 8 to 11.”
- The BP 8: filed against a staff member with whom the original grievance is with. Once filed the staff member has 20 days to respond.
- BP 9: filed with the Warden if the response to the BP 8 was unsatisfactory. The Warden has 30 days to respond.
- BP 10: filed with Regional Office.
- BP 11: filed with Central Office. It is only after the BP 11 response is received can one then file for relief in court.
A big dilemma for inmates in the BOP is “whether to file a BP 8 or 9 to get what is due?” The answer is that an administrative remedy framed correctly can be a very effective tool for getting results. It’s all in the content of your report.
Back in the 1990’s the process did not even exist. It was only after the courts started getting overwhelmed by complaints that a process was put in place to weed things out.
That said, the BP process is intentionally complicated just to make it harder for inmates to file grievances. However, if approached the right way it can make a difference and you could get the desired result.
It’s important to be methodical, so if you believe you need to file a BP report, it is important to remember:
- Usually, the Unit Counselor is responsible for providing the BP forms. The BP 8 requires that you identify the staff member you are filing a grievance against.
- The amount of space on the BP 8 form itself is limited so it’s important to be specific as possible, including dates and precise events or actions that were denied.
- It is very important to provide references to BOP program statements that have been violated as well as federal regulations and statutes. The more detail the better.
- Avoid general disagreements over BOP policy. The BOP does not like to be challenged on policy.
- Including copies of all documents and communications supporting your argument is crucial. Referencing verbal communication does not bear much weight.
- You are now allowed to provide attachments to the BP 8; attaching copies of relevant program statements, regulations, or laws can be important.
- The staff member has 20 days to respond and it’s important to keep a calendar of your filing, so you know when to move on to the next step.
- The BP 8 is meant to be an informal resolution without needing to go further but that usually is not the case.
- Keep in mind, the response is usually a standard one that has been used many times over.
In general, staff members don’t like it when administrative remedies are filed because it goes on their record as a complaint. These can add up.
There is always the fear of retaliation. Remember that you have a constitutional right to file grievances and can’t be retaliated against. If you feel that you are being retaliated against because you wanted to protect your rights, it is important to document these instances.
The ultimate end game is that if the BOP denies the relief you are due, you are going to take it to court. 99.9% of courts insist that administrative remedies are exhausted before a case is filed.
The entire process from PB 8 to PB 11 can take up to 6 months or more. The BOP will most certainly allow itself extensions in the process and they may never notify you. The responsibility is on the inmate to ensure that the timelines are being met.
The number of grievances has exploded in the last couple of years because of the BOP’s delays with the First Step Act. Yet, the process can be effective especially when there are several grievances filed at the same time about the same issue that gets their attention.
More to come! If you have any questions please contact me anytime.
Member: American Bar Association