Do it right, or get ignored!
by Chuck Brost
If you are, or have been incarcerated, you already know that the corruption in our legal system has reached epidemic proportions. Our jails and prisons are overflowing. When a prisoner does find a legal principal or a constitutional violation of his/her rights (not a loophole or technicality as the media has so conveniently coined the terms) that should entitle them to relief, the judge (s) who receive their petitions don't even bother to read them before rubber stamping them denied. But then again, what elected official in his or her right mind would risk ruining their political career by freeing a potentially dangerous felon? I mean, you have to admit, two and three time loser's (media terms, not mine) aren't making it any easier on these elected judges. But, you can fight back! However, it MUST be done in stages.
It amazes me how many prisoners think that they can go directly to their elected officials FIRST to air their grievances, and ignore the legal system entirely. This is the equivalent of never bothering to learn how to play the piano, and then showing up at a symphony hall to perform a paso doble on the Steinway Grand. Such individuals then wonder why nothing works for the, and they can't seem to win their grievances or get out of prison. Most become discouraged and give up: "the court's are a joke." Ever heard that? Worse yet, have you ever said that?
The thing is, the court's are not a joke. The court's are serious business. Court systems and statutes (laws) were designed to provide a means of resolving individual problems; including corruption. Those statutes were enacted by the legislature (more elected officials). However, even the statues that provide a mechanism for verbalizing these violations have definitive procedures that MUST be followed.
Generally, before you can even think about resolving something in a court room, you MUST exhaust ANY "administrative remedy" available to you, whether you are at work in the free world and have a complaint or in a maximum security prison. These administrative remedies, in turn, have their own set of definitive procedures that, too, MUST be followed. It is much preferred to gain knowledge of the term "procedural default" in a law book, rather than learn of it from an opinion published regarding your case.
In prison, the administrative remedy is usually called the grievance procedure. Generally, a two, or three step process, the grievance procedure, whether you wish to believe this or not, was designed to discourage the litigant (you!). It WILL be denied on the first, second, and possibly third levels (s). It WILL make you mad! But, it MUST be done FIRST!
Once you have exhausted administrative remedies, you may proceed to a court of law. Now, state laws vary, and depending upon what you are complaining about will also dictate what you are going to file; i.e., a civil complaint; a state tore; a small claim; etc. (I think Preacher would freak out if I submitted a manuscript explaining every court remedy.) But you get the idea.
Then and only then may you proceed to your elected representative. Unfortunately, a lot of prisoner's will only document the misbehavior of Corrections officials, and then attempt to bypass their administrative remedies, and then the court system by going directly to an elected representative. Not only is that NOT the way things are supposed to work, the prisoner winds up missing a really good opportunity to absolutely wreck the careers of a misbehaving prison bureaucrat.
There is also a mechanism for members of the legislature who do not supervise the judges mis-applying and/or ignoring the statutes. Its called the vote.
If you were able to read this entire article, and you understand what it is that I am trying to convey, then you can learn to use the law as YOUR weapon and eventually ,emerge victorious. The alternative is to give up without a fight which includes writing letters to elected representatives before you exhaust your remedies. You have to believe me when I tell you that its not as difficult as they want you to think it is. Read the prisoner's Self Help Litigation Manual, and for Pete's sake don't believe what you hear, only believe what you read in those book's, because if you don't do it right, you WILL be ignored.
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