Offender Grievance Program
Material taken with permission from Texas CURE Newsletter, Sept 2001
Original source – TDCJ-ID brochure (09-2000)

The grievance program provides a variety of supportive and protective functions by giving the offender an alternative to confrontation and an outlet for frustration and aggression. The program offers the offender a less formal alternative to litigation, thus saving taxpayers the cost of defending the agency in court.

Our mission is to enhance the lines of communication between staff and offenders by providing a resource within the TDCJ for hearing and resolving concerns of offenders affecting the institutional environment.

The current offender grievance process facilitates problem resolution at two distinct administrative levels. Step 1 allows the Warden of the unit to be aware of issues concerning the unit and provides the Warden the opportunity to resolve issues at the unit level.

Step 2 affords an offender the opportunity to appeal thee Warden's decision. Step 2 grievances are sent off to the unit to the Central Grievance Office in Huntsville for review. Once the two-step process has been completed, the offender's administrative remedies within TDCJ have been exhausted.

Grievable issues are: (1) TDCJ policies and procedures; (2) actions of an employee or of another offender; (3) harassment and/or retaliation for use of the grievance procedure or access to the courts; (4) loss or damage of personal property by TDCJ; (5) basic care (things that TDCJ has control over).

Non-grievable issues include: State or federal laws, parole decisions, time-served disputes, matters for which other formal appeal mechanisms exist, any matter beyond the control of the Agency.

TX-CURE Editorial comments.

It is good that TDCJ-ID recognizes the need for a workable Grievance Program. It is especially good to note (#3 above) that retaliation is recognized as a real problem and is itself a grievable issue.

The weakness of the program is obvious: Who is running the show, and for whose benefit? Whose side are the officials on? Whom do they believe? Whose reputation and job are at risk?

Would TDCJ favor an outside “civilian” grievance board? Does the public have a right to know what goes on in the prisons?