Filing a Grievance in the TDCJ Prisons
For inmates in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, complete Step 1 and Step 2 grievance. Be careful to follow TDCJ’s grievance rules.
Initial Attempt at Resolution
Before a grievance is actually filed try what is known as “informal resolution”. This is simply talking with prison staff about the problem. If you do not receive an acceptable response, then move on to the formal grievance process.
Step One of the Grievance Process
- Get a grievance form from TDCJ as well as any rules or policies regarding the grievance process. The forms should be available in the law library and/or your housing unit. If you can’t find the forms you can ask to see someone in the administrative offices to obtain these.
- Follow these guidelines when you write your grievance:
- Only write about the issue you want help with. Each grievance can only discuss one problem. If you have more than one problem, write a different grievance for each problem. Remember you are limited to writing one grievance per week.
- When you write the grievance, explain who you talked to and what they did (if anything) about your problem in the “informal resolution” part.
- Be sure to file your grievance within 15 days of learning about the problem, or as soon as possible.
- Make sure you include how you would like to have the problem solved. For example, if you are sick and need to see a doctor, write “I want to see a doctor.”
- Do not use indecent, vulgar, or threatening language. TDCJ has the right to refuse to process a grievance with bad language.
Step Two of the Grievance Process
TDCJ has 40 days to respond to your Step 1 grievance. You can file a Step 2 grievance as soon as you receive a response to your Step 1 grievance, if you feel the issue was not resolved. If 40 days have passed and you have still not received a response and you have not been notified that there will be a delay, you can proceed to file the Step 2 grievance.
You must file a Step 2 grievance within 15 days of receiving the response to your Step 1 grievance. TDCJ has 35 more days to process a Step 2 grievance.
Always keep copies of your returned grievances. You may need them later on and it can be difficult to obtain copies.
Many prisoners report an increase in harassment or life becoming more difficult after filing a grievance so you should carefully consider whether a grievance is more important than the hassle it may cause in the long run. In addition, it is likely that the information on the grievances will become a part of the parole materials reviewed by the voting members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Appeals (TBPP). Too many grievances or grievances based on “nit picky” things might be considered as proof you are a troublemaker and result in a Texas parole being denied.
Where to Go for Help
If you are unable to prepare and process the grievance yourself you can contact the Ombudsman’s office for the prison system. While the Ombudsman doesn’t actually advocate for the prisoner, they can help with the basics and take a somewhat neutral role in reaching a resolution.
General issues concerning the agency’s operation and policy and procedures, issues from the public relating to secure facilities (prison units, state jails, and substance abuse felony punishment facilities), and any specific concerns regarding offenders confined in these types of facilities.
PO Box 99
Huntsville, TX 77342-0099
Phone: (936) 437-4927 or toll free hotline (844) 476-1289
(Toll free hotline will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
Fax: (936) 437-4930
**Bilingual Staff Available – Se habla Español**
Parole Division Ombudsman
Issues relating to clients who have been released from TDCJ and are being supervised by a parole officer while on parole or mandatory supervision.
PO Box 13401, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
Phone: (512) 406-5795
Fax: (512) 406-5858
Filing a Grievance in the TDCJ Prisons
While Texas does not have one of the best criminal justice systems in the country, at least in the belief of most Texas parole lawyers, the grievance process itself is actually reasonable. However, preparing the proper forms and meeting the filing deadlines will often result in reasonable resolutions to minor problems.