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Friday, June 10, 2011

Revised Administrative Remedy Program

This post isn't going to be a step-by-step guide to file a "grievance" through the Administrative Remedy Program, but will instead give a description of the program, what it is for, & how it has recently changed. I am, however, in the process of authoring some "how-to" guides, & the ARP will be thoroughly covered. In the meantime, if you're looking to give some info about the ARP to a loved one in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, you can tell them to start by requesting Policy 20.08 from the Inmate Legal Assistance Program wherever they are housed.

The Administrative Remedy Program (ARP) was certified by the U.S. District Court (Greenville Division) on February 15, 1994. On April 18, 1994, this formal administrative remedy instrument was installed by the Mississippi Department of Corrections in all its facilities for use by any inmate in the custody of the Department. The Prison Litigation Reform Act enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1996 requires a prisoner to exhaust all available administrative remedies before they can proceed with a suit in the courts. Informal resolutions can still be sought, but to ensure their right to use the formal procedure, a prisoner must file a request to the Legal Claims Adjudicator of the ARP within 30 days of when the incident occurred.

According to policy, the ARP is set up so a prisoner can seek a formal review of a complaint which relates to any aspect of their incarceration (policies, conditions, or events) that affect them personally. My personal experience with the program is that the respondents do not seek to remedy the matter or investigate, but use the process to deter & discourage a prisoner from seeking remedies to their legitimate complaints & delay them from pursuing the matter in court. Usually I do not bother filing an ARP request unless I am willing to carry the matter to court, & that is what I prepare for from the outset.

As of August 19, 2010, the ARP was amended from a three step to a two step appeal process, supposedly because the third step was not needed & may have impeded or slowed inmate access to court. I don't understand how it could have slowed access to court because it STILL HAS A 90 DAY TIME LIMIT from initiation to completion. At least a prisoner doesn't have to deal with the extra paperwork of the unnecessary third step now.

Once the prisoner has filed their complaint with the Legal Claims Adjudicator of the ARP within 30 days of the incident, the request is screened by the Adjudicator & the prisoner is notified if their request is being rejected & the reason for the rejection. The ARP is supposed to notify the prisoner when their request is accepted, but they don't. From the day the request is accepted for processing, the First Step Respondent has 40 days to reply.

After receiving the first step response, a prisoner can proceed to the second step within 5 days if they are not satisfied by indicating such & the reasons why on the response form & forwarding it to the Legal Claims Adjudicator. The Second Step Respondent has 45 days to respond. When the prisoner receives the second step response, they have exhausted the administrative remedies &, if not satisfied, can proceed on to court.

About Steven

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Steven Farris is a prisoner who has been incarcerated since a month after his 16th birthday in 1998. Currently serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole, he is seeking to educate the public about the true nature of prison and the widespread and negative effects of the prison industrial complex. Steven has worked with both the National Prison Project of the ACLU, as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in furthering this effort.

You can contact him directly at:
Steven Farris #R5580
P.O. Box 1889
Woodville, MS 39669-1889

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