Supreme Court of Alaska (2022)
In Torrence v. State, Department of Corrections, 2022 WL 2093196 (Alaska 2022) (unpublished), the supreme court held that a court may dismiss an appeal if an inmate has failed to exhaust the available administrative remedies. (Id. at *1). A riot broke out at Spring Creek Correctional Center and an inmate was suspected of being involved. (Id.). The Department of Corrections (DOC) put the inmate in administrative segregation because it considered him a threat to the facility’s security. (Id.). He did not object to the segregation at a classification hearing, but stated that he had no part in the riot. (Id.). The inmate was kept in segregation for thirty days. (Id.). Seven months later, the inmate filed a grievance against the segregation and claimed that his rights to due process and equal protection had been violated. (Id.). The lower court rejected the inmate’s appeal because he had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies or file a grievance in a timely manner. (Id.). The supreme court affirmed the lower court’s decision. (Id.). First, it reasoned that the lower court did not have jurisdiction to review the DOC’s denial of the inmate’s grievance. (Id. at *2). Second, it reasoned that even if the lower court had jurisdiction, the inmate had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before bringing the action in court to challenge an agency decision. (Id.). DOC regulations state that classifications should be appealed by submitting a form to an institutional probation officer within five days of the classification decision. (Id. at *3). The inmate in this case did not follow those procedures, waiting seven months to file his grievance in court. (Id.). Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that if an inmate has not exhausted his available administrative remedies before bringing suit, a court may dismiss the claim. (Id).