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Broken Gate? A Study of the PLRA Exhaustion Requirement Past, Present, and Future
Unformatted Document Text:  Broken Gate? the impact of such matters is real and significant (Chen, 2004). Conversely, in the matter Hicks v. Monteiro, the pro se prisoner plaintiff brought a section 1983 and Americans with Disabilities Act claim regarding events alleged to have occurred in the Salinas Valley State Prison with in the California Department of Corrections (Chen, 2004). Hicks, who had a severe leg injury, alleged that the corrections staff at Salinas Valley denied him the use of a walking stick and wheel chair and refused to install handrails in the showers or his cell (Chen, 2004). Lacking the ability to safely maneuver about the prison, Hicks slipped stepping out of the shower and badly injured himself (Chen, 2004). Although Hicks fully exhausted the administrative remedies available at Salinas Valley, he did not initiate the grievance process until after filing suit in federal court (Chen, 2004). Because exhaustion of an inmate’s administrative process is a prerequisite to suit in federal court, Hicks’ attempt did not amount to exhaustion under the PLRA (Belbot, 2004, p. 292). Thus, even though the grievance process left Hicks without any relief whatsoever, and acknowledging that Hicks had raised meritorious claims, the Court nonetheless dismissed his case for failure to properly exhaust in conformity with the PLRA (Chen, 2004, pp. 223-224). It is difficult to fathom the amount of judicial and taxpayer resources utilized in cases like Ali that could be better spent monitoring prison conditions and/or litigating meaningful claims, such as those of inmate Hicks. Surely this cannot have been what even proponents of the PLRA intended. Potential Remedies 19

Authors: Passarelli, Mariah.
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Broken Gate?
the impact of such matters is real and significant (Chen, 2004).
Conversely, in the matter Hicks v. Monteiro, the pro se prisoner plaintiff brought 
a section 1983 and Americans with Disabilities Act claim regarding events alleged to 
have occurred in the Salinas Valley State Prison with in the California Department of 
Corrections (Chen, 2004).  Hicks, who had a severe leg injury, alleged that the 
corrections staff at Salinas Valley denied him the use of a walking stick and wheel chair 
and refused to install handrails in the showers or his cell (Chen, 2004).  Lacking the 
ability to safely maneuver about the prison, Hicks slipped stepping out of the shower and 
badly injured himself (Chen, 2004).  
Although Hicks fully exhausted the administrative remedies available at Salinas 
Valley, he did not initiate the grievance process until after filing suit in federal court 
(Chen, 2004).  Because exhaustion of an inmate’s administrative process is a prerequisite 
to suit in federal court, Hicks’ attempt did not amount to exhaustion under the PLRA 
(Belbot, 2004, p. 292).  Thus, even though the grievance process left Hicks without any 
relief whatsoever, and acknowledging that Hicks had raised meritorious claims, the Court 
nonetheless dismissed his case for failure to properly exhaust in conformity with the 
PLRA (Chen, 2004, pp. 223-224).
It is difficult to fathom the amount of judicial and taxpayer resources utilized in 
cases like Ali that could be better spent monitoring prison conditions and/or litigating 
meaningful claims, such as those of inmate Hicks.  Surely this cannot have been what 
even proponents of the PLRA intended.
Potential Remedies
19


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