Standard 115.52 (d)(1) states: “The agency shall issue a final agency decision on the merits of any portion of a grievance alleging sexual abuse within 90 days of the initial filing of the grievance.” If the agency has a grievance appeals process with one or more levels of appeal following an initial decision on the grievance, what stage of that process constitutes a “final agency decision?”
The “final agency decision” must be issued at the highest level of appeal available to the inmate who has filed the grievance, and it must be issued within 90 days of the initial filing of the grievance, not counting the time the inmate takes to prepare an appeal at any level. (See Standard 115.52 (d)(2), which states: “Computation of the 90-day time period shall not include time consumed by inmates in preparing any administrative appeal.”) The purpose of Standard 115.52 (d)(1) and (d)(2) is to ensure that inmates can “exhaust” administrative remedies within a timeframe that reasonably allows them to move through the grievance process without missing a state or federal statute of limitations.
Standard 115.52 (d)(3) states: “The agency may claim an extension of time to respond, of up to 70 days, if the normal time period for response is insufficient to make an appropriate decision. The agency shall notify the inmate in writing of any such extension and provide a date by which a decision will be made.”