Right to Medical Care for Inmates in State Prison
Federal law requires an inmate in a Pennsylvania state prison to “exhaust,” or complete, the prison grievance process established by the jail before he can file a lawsuit regarding a denial of medical care. Therefore, the first thing to do after being denied your constitutional right(s) and suffering an injury is to promptly file a grievance. Under Pennsylvania Department of Corrections rules, an initial grievance must be filed within 15 days of the incident. The grievance must name each prison staff member who was personally involved in the injury or denial of adequate care. When a grievance is denied, it must be appealed within 15 days of each denial until the “final” decision on the grievance is issued. Failing to complete this process, either by not filing the initial grievance, or any of the appeals in time, terminates a prisoner’s right to file a lawsuit. Every inmate should KNOW and FOLLOW all grievance rules and procedures or risk losing their right to recover for violations of their rights.