Resource: Prison and Jail Grievance Policies: Lessons from a Fifty-State Survey

By: Priyah Kaul, Greer Donley, Benjamin Cavataro, Anelisa Benavides, Jessica Kincaid, Joseph Chatham

October 18, 2015

Michigan Law Prison Information Project

This report by a group of UMich Law Students summarizes information gathered by analysis of prisoner grievance policies from 53 Departments of Correction (for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico), and the nation’s 12 largest metropolitan jails. Each policy itself — obtained via the web or by Freedom of Information Act requests — is available at They exhibit significant variation. It is this variation that undergirds the recommendations below. Where the authors observed particular grievance rules that seemed troubling — unfair, especially onerous for prisoners, etc. — and those rules are unusual, they recommended the more common practice. Other recommendations work the converse way: where some jurisdictions have unusual but very appealing rules, they highlighted those as promising practices for others to follow.