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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary

The Bureau of Inmate Grievance Appeals

The Bureau of Inmate Grievance Appeals is responsible for providing inmates with a channel for the administrative settlement of legitimate complaints. The grievance process assists the Department by providing an avenue for internal resolution of problems and improving lines of communication. This process also provides a written record in the event of subsequent judicial or administrative review.

An effective grievance procedure reduces stress within the inmate population by providing an outlet for venting frustration and an avenue for resolving complaints. This, in turn, yields a safer environment for staff and inmates.

The following is a comparison of grievances received and processed by the Bureau of Inmate Grievance Appeals during the last two fiscal years:

Received FY 1996-97 FY 1997-98
Transfers 389 376
Program Assignments 2,257 2,290
Communications 734 790
Confinement 430 432
Discipline 9,862 9,669
Institutional Operations 2,333 3,018
Medical 3,598 4,080
Legal 5,942 5,795
Grievance Process 1,819 1,778
Staff Complaints 4,516 4,254
Personal Property 1,308 1,599
Food Services 724 805
Miscellaneous 877 800
Reading Material 320 754
ADA 74 27
Total Received 35,183 36,467
Processed/Completed FY 1996-97 FY 1997-98
Approved 2,066 1,079
Approved for Further Review 1,290
Denied 19,625 20,245
Returned 14,286 13,250
Withdrawn 8 2
Other 169 3
Total Processed 36,154 35,869

Certification of Grievance Procedure

  • The Department was awarded certification of its grievance procedure for inmates on March 25, 1992.
  • Inmates may now be required to exhaust administrative remedies prior to the court accepting their complaints.
  • Since certification, our management of and responsiveness to our own procedure has been under ever increasing scrutiny. The courts are now able to see how we have attempted to resolve complaints. We must ensure that our handling of grievance complaints represents a genuine reflection of the Department's intent, which is to fairly and equitably resolve all complaints registered by inmates. This does not mean all complaints are to be resolved in the inmates' favor. It does mean that the inmate receives a fair and impartial review, evaluation, appropriate investigation, and response to the complaint on its merit(s).
  • The benefits of certification and a properly managed grievance procedure include: internal resolution of complaints; information useful as a correctional management tool to determine where problems exist and corrections/ adjustments are necessary; information to identify where good practices exist and can be shared with others; improved staff credibility with inmates; improved Department credibility with the courts; a resource of documentation for those issues inmates take to the courts that later require Department response; and reduction in the number of complaints filed with the courts.

Accomplishments

  • By using automation (SYSM) and support staff resources to request information from field staff during the past fiscal year, the Bureau saved approximately $34,299 in salaries. Revised mailing procedures saved another $7,256 in envelopes and salaries.
  • Approximately 25,000 inmate grievance files were converted from alphabetical to numerical order. This conversion was performed to eliminate file duplication for inmates committed under multiple names, and to implement a more efficient filing system.
  • Through process improvements and quality initiatives, the average response time for inmate grievance appeals has decreased from 46.6 days at the time the Bureau was audited in 1993, to 33.6 days in 1995, to 27.4 days in 1996, and to 25.8 days in 1997.
  • The Bureau continually strives to provide inmates with an impartial, consistent and expeditious mechanism for resolving grievances. The Bureau's ultimate goals are to process grievances within applicable time frames, and to enable all Bureau staff to work together as a productive team in an atmosphere of optimism, confidence and commitment.