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Grievance Hearings Program

Questions, Concerns and Grievances

Each person housed at a Department facility is assigned a Corrections Counselor (CC) or a Community Corrections Officer (CCO), who is the primary person responsible for responding to inmate and resident questions and concerns. If the concern can better be handled by a specific department (e.g. medical or inmate accounts), the inmate/resident will be directed to contact that department.

Inmates and residents have a number of options to make contact with the CC or CCO. The kite system allows a written note to be sent to the CC/CCO. The duplicate form allows the CC/CCO to send a written reply and keep a copy for the inmate/resident file. Most facilities also have kiosks that provide inmates the opportunity to send and receive electronic messages.

Sometimes face-to-face communication is best. CCs/CCOs may have scheduled open-door times when they are available or they may require appointments. If a concern cannot be handled by direct communication with the CC/CCO or appropriate department, the inmate/resident can speak with the CC’s/CCO’s supervisor.

Grievances

In certain cases, our grievance process may be appropriate.

A grievance is a formal written complaint. Before filing a grievance, inmates should try to resolve issues at the lowest level possible; discussing an issue with staff will often clear up any misunderstandings.

Inmates may file a grievance on incidents that affect him or her personally and over which the Department has jurisdiction, including actions by employees, contract staff, volunteers and other inmates. Inmates may grieve their place of confinement when it relates to policy, lack of policy and/or the lack of application of policy.

All inmates are provided with information needed to file a grievance. The necessary forms are readily available and an Offender Grievance Program Manual is available at each facility to guide them through the process.

When not to file a grievance

There are many areas where an inmate may have concerns but the grievance process is not appropriate. These include: state and federal law; Washington Administrative Code (WAC); court decisions; court-ordered pre-sentencing reports; Community Corrections Officer (CCO) or Corrections Counselor (CC) recommendations to superior court and/or the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board (ISRB); special conditions imposed by a CCO or Facility Risk Management Team (FRMT) in accordance with Department policy; ISRB decisions; classification, disciplinary or work release termination committee actions or decisions; and Department-approved procedures that have separate formal, approved appeal processes.

How a grievance is resolved

There are established timeframes for the Department to respond to inmate grievances. We make every effort to respond within those timeframes and resolve concerns as quickly as possible. The following are potential ways to resolve a grievance: administrative action(s) to correct a problem; agreement by the facility or DOC officials to remedy an objectionable condition within a reasonable, specified time; and changes in facility or Department policy or practice.

Actions at all levels of the grievance process are subject to review by the next level in the system. The Deputy Secretary or his or her designee is the final appellant authority for all grievances.

Family, friends and other outside parties can not file a grievance. They are welcome to call, e-mail or write staff directly to express their concerns.