The process to address a health care grievance begins by filing the appropriate “Administrative Remedy” and following the correct protocol (C.F.R- 542). Everything is governed by the Code of Federal Regulations and the system is set up to make sure the complainant is determined. The process is made to wear you down until you stop filing the paperwork. There is also cost involved with making the required copies and mailing the forms out when appropriate. The cost is on you.
Step 1– An attempt at informal resolution. Form BP 8 ½. This is your chance to plead your case to a counselor and convince him/ her that your complaint has merit. If the counselor agrees with you, they will help. The problem is two-fold. They rarely agree with the inmate. If they do agree with you, there is usually not much they can do and you will have to go to step two regardless.
Step 2- Formal complaint (Form BP-9) is a written complaint to the Warden’s Office to be filed within 20 days of the incident that started your complaint process. Be sure to follow the instructions on the form exactly as stated or it will be kicked back. Consult with inmates working in the law library for further instruction.
Step 3- Appeal the Warden’s Decision (Form BP-10). This form is written and submitted to the regional director. The regional office is located outside of the prison and you can obtain the address in the law library or from a counselor. This must be done within 20 days of the Warden’s response. Once again, the instructions must be followed exactly or the form will be kicked back. Copies must be submitted. Consult with inmates working in the law library.
Step 4- Appeal the Regional Director’s Decision (Form BP-11). This form and associated documents will be submitted in response to the regional director’s denial of your administrative remedy. The BP-11 goes to General Counsel’s Office in Washington D.C. and must be filed within 30 calendar days of the region’s response/ denial. Follow the steps exactly as instructed on the form,
The prison is required to respond to your forms Bp-9, 10 and 11 in a specific number of calendar days. They will usually send you a notice of extension. They can do this one time. If the request is not responded to after the request for extension, you can assume that your request/ administrative remedy has been denied and go to the next step. This is not uncommon.
These steps we discussed are instituted to filter out frivolous claims so the prison can focus on the determined inmate with a legitimate complaint. But very often, it seems like it’s just a way to weed out those with no resources or education to file a complaint. The Administrative Remedy process is the gateway to being heard. If you do not engage in this process, you will NOT be heard. You must exhaust this process that can ultimately lead to a day in court where a judge will decide what the prison should do. I have seen it happen, however rare.
You must always be on alert about your health and/ or disability. Never believe that your situation is “being handled” unless you have started the Administrative Remedy process. I have seen countless inmates spinning their wheels because a staff member told them they would take care of their issue. That is what is commonly referred to as a “spin tactic”. The BOP staff is very skilled at it. So if you have a complaint, use the proper means of communication and do your homework before you put things down on paper.
If you do not, you will be another BOP casualty.