In order to resolve most issues in the Bureau of Prisons, from time not credited toward an inmate’s sentence to lack of cleaning supplies for the living units, an inmate is required to pursue the Administrative Remedy Process. This is a very cumbersome and costly endeavor that is normally used to discourage an inmate from reporting issues. Pursuant to the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act any inmate with a grievance, regardless of how serious the grievance is, must first exhaust the Administrative Remedy Process.
The Administrative Remedy Process goes as follows:
The BP 8.5 is the first step in the Bureau of Prisons Administrative Remedy Process. An inmate is required to take his complaint to his counselor who then gives him a form to fill out and return. When the form is returned, the counselor investigates the matter. An inmate has twenty days from the time the issue occurred to file a BP 8.5. This is considered an “informal resolution.” Inmates have three to four lines to fill out stating what their complaint is and are allowed one continuous page. Exhibits are unlimited. All materials used in preparing this form, the continuous page and exhibits (including copies) are at the inmate’s expense unless the inmate is indigent. There is no clear process available to explain how an inmate can qualify as indigent. Normally if an inmate has less than $5.25 in their account for more than 180 days they qualify for indigent status. The Bureau of Prisons are required to provide resources for indigent inmates who wish to pursue the Administrative Remedy Process.
The BP 9 is a formal complaint to the Warden of a facility. Once a BP 8.5 is denied an inmate is given a BP 9 and allowed to send the complaint to the Warden. Inmates have twenty days from the date of denial to file the BP 9. Inmates are allowed one continuous page and unlimited exhibits. If the exhibits contain an affidavit or anything written in narrative form it is considered a second continuous page and the BP 9 is rejected. The Warden has twenty days to respond to the BP 9 but can inform the inmate if they intend to take longer to answer the BP 9. By policy they are allowed a twenty day extension.
The inmate has twenty days from the time the Warden signs the denial of a BP 9 response to appeal (if an inmate receives the BP 9 response on the 30th, but the Warden signed it on the 9th, the inmate normally is considered defaulted in his time frame for appealing and must make an appeal to the Warden to correct the issues, normally following the same procedure needed for the initial complaint.) The deadline includes mailing time.
The BP 10 is a formal appeal of the BP 9 to the Regional Director’s office. The inmate has the same rules as for the BP 9. The regional director has thirty days to respond but can inform the inmate if they wish to take a longer period of time. They are allowed by policy to receive a thirty day extension. Regional then mails the response to the inmate. The inmate has thirty days form the date that the Regional Director signed the denial to appeal. If the Regional Director signed the response on the 9th and it takes thirty days for the Regional Directors secretary to process the paperwork, the mail room to mail it and the inmate to finally receive it, the inmate will have defaulted upon his appeal and must begin the Administrative Remedy Process again in order gain permission to file the original BP 10 out of time.
The BP 11 is a formal appeal to Central Office in Washington, D.C. The inmate has the same rules as the BP 9 and BP 10. Central Office has forty days to respond to the appeal but can inform the inmate if they wish to take more time. They are allowed by policy to receive a twenty day extension. Normally Central Office doesn’t respond to BP 11’s. After sixty days the BP 11 is considered denied and the inmate is allowed to proceed to take their issue to Federal Court. Often if an inmate wins their argument in court Central Office will respond to the BP 11, sometimes years after the incident was first grievance, awarding redress to the grievance.
- The inmate must pay for all stamps, envelopes, pens, paper, copies, typewriter ribbon, correction ribbon, certification, etc. for their filings.
- Exhibits do not get returned to the inmate. If an inmate appeals an issue they must make new copies of exhibits for each appeal.
- If an appeal is ignored after flied an inmate is expected to consider the appeal denied and proceed to the next level of the Administrative Remedy Process. There are set guidelines to follow for this. For a BP 9, it’s twenty days; BP 10, thirty days; BP 11 sixty days. Often the Administrative Remedy Coordinators do not review the appeal properly and simply reject the appeal without learning that the previous appeal was ignored.
- Normally if an inmate appeals a denial and anything is missing, it is rejected and the inmate has five days from the time of the rejection to file a corrected appeal. This includes mailing time.
- If an inmate appeals an incident report (prison infraction), they are still punished for the incident they were charged with while they appeal (i.e. loss of privileges such as commissary, phone, email, and/or visitation). In most instances, the punishment is over long before the appeal is heard.
- In each facility (Warden’s Office, Regional Director’s Office, Central Office), an Administrative Remedy Coordinator receives the appeal, reviews it, and then forwards it on to the head of the department the complaint is about. The department head then responds to it, and that response is normally crafted to be the Warden’s response. Rarely does a Warden actually review the appeal responses on which his/her name goes. Normally, if a staff member is the focus of the complaint, they are the one to answer the complaint and all subsequent appeals.
An example of how costly the process is for an inmate follows:
An inmate is 15 months to release and his case manager has not filed the proper paperwork for halfway house (this is supposed to happen at 18 months prior to good time release). The inmate files a BP 8.5 and includes records of all the post-sentencing rehabilitation he received by providing copies of the certificates from the courses/classes they have taken. If there are 40 certificates, at a cost of $0.20 apiece for copies, the inmate spends $8.0 to provide a copy of their certificates. Three weeks later they receive a denial of their BP 8.5 stating that the case manager is working on their packet. The inmate then appeals to the Warden, spending another $8.00 to make copies because the exhibits don’t get returned with the denials. The Warden receives an extension and denies the BP 9 on the 40th day. The inmate appeals to the Regional Director through a BP 10. The inmate is required to make copies of the exhibits provided with the BP 8.5 and BP 9, copies of the BP 8.5, copies of the BP 9 the inmate filed, copies of the Wardens Response and anything else that may have been included. With all of these pages, it also cost about $20.00 to mail. After 60 days, the inmate receives a denial from the Regional Director and has to pay for copies and postage in order to mail an appeal to Central Office. The inmate received the BP 10 denial late (not uncommon) and now has to pay an extra $3 to certify the mail to prove when they mailed the BP 11 to Central Office. With the extra copies required from the BP 10, the BP 11 cost him a total of $33.00.
The inmate never receives a response from the BP 11. After 60 days the inmate takes the matter to court, which cost them a $5 filing fee along with new copies of everything and postage again (about $40 in total).
Altogether, the inmate spent will have $115.00. This doesn’t include the cost of a typewriter wheel ($19.95), typewriter ribbon ($8.75), and correction ribbon ($1.25).
By the time the motion reaches court the inmate will normally have spent six months pursuing the Administrative Remedy Process, which would leave them with nine months in which to be placed for halfway house placement. A court hearing normally takes over a year for a Pro-Se litigant to file and be heard.
We are currently accepting stories of Administrative Remedy Abuse from inmates in Federal Prison and will be posting our findings mid-2019.
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