Opinion of the Court
scribed this provision as a "limited exhaustion requirement" in McCarthy v. Madigan, 503 U. S. 140, 150-151 (1992), and thought it inapplicable to prisoner suits for damages when monetary relief was unavailable through the prison grievance system.
In 1996, as part of the PLRA, Congress invigorated the exhaustion prescription. The revised exhaustion provision, titled "Suits by prisoners," states: "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U. S. C. § 1997e(a) (1994 ed., Supp. V).
The current exhaustion provision differs markedly from its predecessor. Once within the discretion of the district court, exhaustion in cases covered by § 1997e(a) is now mandatory. See Booth v. Churner, 532 U. S. 731, 739 (2001). All "available" remedies must now be exhausted; those remedies need not meet federal standards, nor must they be "plain, speedy, and effective." See ibid.; see also id., at 740, n. 5. Even when the prisoner seeks relief not available in grievance proceedings, notably money damages, exhaustion is a prerequisite to suit. See id., at 741. And unlike the previous provision, which encompassed only § 1983 suits, exhaustion is now required for all "action[s] . . . brought with respect to prison conditions," whether under § 1983 or "any other Federal law." Compare 42 U. S. C. § 1997e (1994 ed.) with 42 U. S. C. § 1997e(a) (1994 ed., Supp. V). Thus federal prisoners suing under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388 (1971), must first exhaust inmate grievance procedures just as state prisoners must exhaust administrative processes prior to instituting a § 1983 suit.
Beyond doubt, Congress enacted § 1997e(a) to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of prisoner suits; to thisPage: Index Previous 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Next
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