Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 14 (2002)

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Cite as: 534 U. S. 516 (2002)

Opinion of the Court

and attendant distinctions in the context in which they were made. But the question presented here is of a different order.

Hudson and Farmer trained solely and precisely on proof requirements: what injury must a plaintiff allege and show; what mental state must a plaintiff plead and prove. Proof requirements once a case is in court, however, do not touch or concern the threshold inquiry before us: whether resort to a prison grievance process must precede resort to a court. We have no reason to believe that Congress meant to release the evidentiary distinctions drawn in Hudson and Farmer from their moorings and extend their application to the otherwise invigorated exhaustion requirement of 1997e(a). Such an extension would be highly anomalous given Congress' elimination of judicial discretion to dispense with exhaustion and its deletion of the former constraint that administrative remedies must be "plain, speedy, and effective" before exhaustion could be required. See supra, at 524; Booth, 532 U. S., at 739; cf. id., at 740-741 ("Congress's imposition of an obviously broader exhaustion requirement makes it highly implausible that it meant to give prisoners a strong inducement to skip the administrative process simply by limiting prayers for relief to money damages not offered through administrative grievance mechanisms.").

Nussle contends that Congress added the words "prison conditions" to the text of 1997e(a) specifically to exempt excessive force claims from the now mandatory exhaustion requirement; he sees that requirement as applicable mainly to " 'prison conditions' claims that may be frivolous as to subject matter," 224 F. 3d, at 106. See Brief for Respondent 2, 26-27. It is at least equally plausible, however, that Congress inserted "prison conditions" into the exhaustion provision simply to make it clear that preincarceration claims fall outside 1997e(a), for example, a Title VII claim against the prisoner's preincarceration employer, or, for that matter, a 1983 claim against his arresting officer.


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