If the grievance procedure is "certified," as it is in the State of Florida, exhausting administrative remedies is required by the state and federal courts prior to filing a lawsuit.
I personally view the procedure in Florida, especially Baker Correctional Institution, as a "sham" and a vehicle used by officials to distract you from the actual cause of the grievance, by giving you inane responses that have little or nothing to do with the grieved issues. Generally, one official will lie and fifty others will swear to it.
After the informal grievance to institutional officials, the appeal goes to the department's inmate grievance committee. There, they request extension of time after extension, which is generally denied by the prisoner, and taken anyway by the committee.
The Administrative Code of Florida, and most likely your state, has a provision that grievances will be responded to within 30 days UNLESS an extension is agreed upon by the parties. I have had the DOC take up to four unauthorized extensions and know of instances where up to seven have been taken. This outlaw practice effectively puts the brakes on any judicial civil action.
In designating a time period in which the grievance appeal is to be answered, this creates a ministerial duty for the committee, and gives the prisoner a clear and legal right to that response. Thus, mandamus is applicable to compel the committee to respond in a timely manner.
I have developed a "form" Petition for Alternative Writ of Mandamus to compel a response in the State of Florida and a "form" for In Forma Pauperis that even a prisoner who has absolutely no experience in legal matters can utilize. Inmates from other states may want to modify the form by changing some of the provisions to comply with their rules of court or administrative code.
I urge prisoners from all states, especially Florida, to contact me for copies of these forms. Please send two postage stamps so the cost of postage will not stifle my efforts to compel prison officials to do their jobs.
John Gertesen # 284238
P.O. Box 500
Olustee, FL, 32072-0500
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