The Offender Affairs and Appeals Office is an investigative unit with the sole responsibility of reviewing and investigating offender grievances and disciplinary actions. The office processes approximately 1,200 actions per month.

The Offender Affairs and Appeals Office is an investigative unit with the sole responsibility of reviewing and investigating offender grievances and disciplinary actions. The office processes approximately 1,200 actions per month.

Disciplinary Action Investigations

To maintain a safe, secure environment in the residential facilities, there are established rules that govern the behavior of offenders or residents. If an offender violates these rules, an officer or other staff member makes a report of the infraction (sometimes called "writing the offender up"). A committee at the institution, called the Disciplinary Committee reviews the report, questions the offender and any witnesses, examines any evidence, and makes a ruling regarding the offender's action. If the offender is found guilty of rule violations, the committee delivers a sanction in accordance with established guidelines.

The offender has a right to appeal the decision of the Disciplinary Committee decision if he thinks he was not fairly treated (e.g., his witnesses were not allowed to testify, the punishment was too strict, etc.)The administrator of the facility reviews the appeal and, if the offender does not agree with the decision of the administrator, he may appeal it further to the Commissioner's Executive Assistant.

The Executive Assistant then asks the Offender Affairs and Appeals to investigate the matter. The investigators from this office review all materials and may, if the circumstances seem to require it, go to the institution to further explore the situation. They may decide that the disciplinary decision stands as the Disciplinary Committee pronounced it. However, the investigators may determine that the charge was unjust, that procedure was not properly followed, that the punishment was too harsh, or any other inappropriate action was taken. The Offender Affairs and Appeals Office may remove the disciplinary report from the offender file entirely or may make modifications to it. In any case, the administrator of the institution, the offender, and any other parties involved are informed of the results of the investigation.

By providing an appeal process for the disciplinary procedure, the Offender Affairs and Appeals Office ensures that offenders are fairly treated and that offender rights are safeguarded.

Grievance Actions

Offenders may grieve issues of any condition, policy, procedure, action or lack thereof that affect their lives in the institutions. This grievance first goes to the institution administrator for review. It may be resolved at that level. The offender has the right to appeal the administrator's resolution by bringing the matter to the attention of the Commissioner's Executive Assistant.

At the request of the Executive Assistant, the Offender Affairs and Appeals investigators review all materials and may, if the circumstances seem to require it, go to the institution to further explore the situation. The investigators may determine that the grievance was unfounded, or they may determine that there were legitimate grounds for complaint. All involved parties are informed of their decision.

The investigation of offender grievances not only gives the offenders the opportunity to voice complaints, it may also provide the Department with an alert that policy changes need to be made. If, for example, offenders complain that they are not able to get adequate medical treatment, this may indicate a need for additional medical personnel at a certain facility.

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