Grievances are one of the only administrative remedies we have against unjust treatment and staff misconduct. In Oregon we also have discrimination complaints, the right to attempt petition, a department of corrections ombudsman and (any prisoner in any state or federal facility can also do this next step) the ability to file with no fee a Department of Justice (DOJ) civil rights complaint.
In Oregon, grievances come with two appeals. Then you have exhausted the process and can go to further discrimination complaint with one appeal and then that process is exhausted. Using either/or you can lay the groundwork for a federal civil suit and meet the requirements of the 1997 Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) providing you exhaust all administrative remedies available to you. So, you must either exhaust all of your grievance appeals or discrimination complaint appeals to file suit. You may not file a grievance and a discrimination complaint on the same issue. I always advise that you exhaust every grievance and discrimination complaint so you retain your ability to file suit.
You can file a DOJ civil rights complaint at any time with or without exhausting either administrative remedy. However, showing you have tried to address the issue with no satisfaction will help your DOJ complaint. Always create a paperwork trail. Always!
If you are having ongoing issues of some type, but can A) document a new incident of the same type has occurred and B) have new information about the issue, you may file another grievance under OAR 291-019-0140 (6) or another discrimination complaint under OAR 291-006-0015 (6). However, expect the grievance coordinator will try and stop you claiming you have already filed a grievance/discrimination complaint on the same issue previously. This is one of their tactics to keep you from proving an issue is persistent and is ongoing. This is currently happening to me at Two Rivers Correctional Institution. Ms. Reynolds, the grievance coordinator is stopping valid grievances and discrimination complaints when I can clearly prove the Oregon administrative rules are being properly followed.
Always know the rules and laws you are evoking. I suggest you read up on them and copy them so you can cite them in your grievance/discrimination complaint process.
If your process is blocked you can take it to the Oregon DOC ombudsman or internal affairs - or both, to keep the issue alive. Make copies of everything you do and make sure you have followed all processes to the letter of rule before you go to this level. As a last resort per OAR 291-107, you can attempt a petition process as well.
You may face uphill battles but if you are going to use the grievance/discrimination complaint process, so do it right the first time and be persistent. You may not win but you can keep the struggle alive.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Information like this is key to push forward our battle demanding our grievances be addressed. We don't yet have a petition for Oregon, but for many other states we have petitions prisoners can request to push this grievance battle on the political front while filing administrative appeals and working your way into court. For those states that don't yet have a petition, request the generic version and help us customize it to your state.