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Grievances - Prison Rape Elimination Act Grievance Process

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) addresses the exhaustion of administrative remedies specifically concerning allegations of sexual abuse.  Effective immediately, the Department is implementing a separate PREA Grievance process as outlined below:

The PREA grievance process is a two-step process addressing grievances regarding sexual abuse.  The Grievant may file a PREA grievance for Step I at the facility, and they are permitted to appeal the Step I decision to Step II to the PREA Administrator in Central Office. The Step II decision is the agency’s final determination.  Complaints filed regarding sexual abuse as defined in PD 03.03.140 “Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment of Prisoners” serve to exhaust his/her administrative remedies only when filed through both steps of the PREA grievance process. 

New forms have been created for this process.  To file a PREA grievance, the Grievant must fill out a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Prisoner Grievance Form (STEP I) (CAJ-1038A).  The prisoner should state their issues briefly but concisely and limit them to PREA issues ONLY.  Information provided is to be limited to the facts involving the PREA issue being grieved (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, how).  Dates, times, places, and names of all those involved in the issue being grieved are to be included.  Information should be confined to the form and not written on the back, sides, or margins of the form, or in the response area.    If additional pages are necessary to provide required information, the prisoner must submit four copies of each additional page for Step I and, if appealed, to Step II. 

The Grievant may file a PREA grievance at any time by submitting a completed PREA Prisoner Grievance Form (STEP I) (CAJ-1038A) with the facility PREA coordinator or inspector of the institution at which they are housed.  The prisoner is not required to use any informal grievance process, or to otherwise attempt to resolve an alleged incident of sexual abuse before filing a PREA grievance.  The prisoner will not be required to submit a PREA grievance to a staff member who is the subject of your complaint. 

Any grievance containing issues other than sexual abuse will be returned to the Grievant with instructions to process their non-PREA issues in accordance with PD 03.02.130 “Prisoner/Parolee Grievances.” Any PREA grievance containing multiple issues which includes issues not related to sexual abuse, will be processed in accordance with this notice and will only address the allegations of sexual abuse.  The Grievant will be notified that they must submit a new grievance in accordance with PD 03.02.130 to address any other non-PREA concerns or allegations which fall under the jurisdiction of PD 03.02.130.

The PREA coordinator or inspector will ensure a written response is provided to the Grievant within 60 calendar days of receipt of the Step I PREA grievance unless an extension has been approved by the Internal Affairs Division in order to conduct an appropriate investigation.  An extension of up to 70 calendar days may be approved by Internal Affairs if 60 calendar days is insufficient to make an appropriate decision.  The Grievant will be informed in writing of any extension and provided a date by which a decision will be made.


The prisoner may only file a Step II administrative appeal to the PREA Administrator if they are dissatisfied with the response received at Step I or if they did not receive a timely response at Step I.  To file an appeal, the Grievant must request a PREA Prisoner Grievance Appeal Form (STEP II) (CAJ-1038B) from the facility PREA coordinator or inspector and send the completed form to the PREA Administrator within 10 calendar days after receiving the initial response.  If no response was received, the prisoner must submit the appeal within 10 calendar days after the date the response was due, including any extension.  A final agency determination on the merits of a PREA grievance will be provided by the PREA Administrator within 90 calendar days from the original filing of the grievance.  Computation of the 90 days does not include the 10 days allowed for the prisoner to file an administrative appeal. 

Third parties, including fellow prisoners, staff members, family members, attorneys, and outside advocates, may file a PREA grievance on the prisoner’s behalf.  A third party may also assist the prisoner in filing a PREA grievance in accordance with policy.  If a third party files a PREA grievance on a prisoner’s behalf, the prisoner must sign the PREA grievance in the area provided indicating they authorize the grievance to be filed on their behalf for the grievance to be processed.  If the prisoner refuses to sign, the PREA grievance will be immediately dismissed.  All Department responses to a PREA grievance filed by a third party will be provided only to the prisoner on whose behalf the grievance was filed.     

The prisoner, or a third party, may file an emergency PREA grievance if it is believed that a prisoner is subject to substantial risk of imminent sexual abuse.  The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Prisoner Grievance Form (STEP I) (CAJ-1038A) must clearly indicate that the grievance is an emergency PREA grievance and the nature of the risk.  Upon receipt of an emergency PREA grievance, the receiving staff member will immediately forward the emergency  PREA  grievance, or any portion of  the  emergency  PREA  grievance that  alleges the substantial risk of imminent sexual abuse, to the warden.  The warden will take immediate action to remove the prisoner from any identified real or potential harm and ensure an initial response is provided to the prisoner within 48 hours.  A final agency decision from the PREA Administrator regarding whether the prisoner is in substantial risk of imminent sexual abuse will be provided to the prisoner within five calendar days.  The initial response and final agency decision shall document the agency’s determination of whether the prisoner was in substantial risk of imminent sexual abuse and the action taken in response to the emergency PREA grievance.

Staff shall not retaliate against a prisoner for using the PREA grievance process.  If a prisoner intentionally files a PREA grievance which is investigated and determined to be unfounded and which, if proven true, may have caused an employee or a prisoner to be disciplined or an employee to receive corrective action, the prisoner may be issued a misconduct report if approved by the warden.  The misconduct report shall be processed as set forth in PD 03.03.105 "Prisoner Discipline.”

Wardens will ensure prisoners are provided assistance in completing a PREA grievance, if needed.  In such cases, assistance will be provided by a staff member who is not the subject of the grievance.