The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) contains an administrative exhaustion provision that was interpreted by the Supreme Court in Woodford v. Ngo in 2006 to impose a procedural default component. This piece argues that we should take seriously Justice Breyer’s Woodford concurrence, in which he noted that administrative law doctrine contains well-established exceptions to exhaustion. Although this point might at first seem inconsistent with other Supreme Court cases interpreting the PLRA, this Article argues that Justice Breyer’s concurrence can be reconciled with those opinions. PLRA exhaustion invokes regular administrative law exhaustion doctrine so long as it is not inconsistent with the statute. More generally, the Article argues that we should take administrative law seriously in the corrections context.
Exhausted, 24 Fed. Sent'g Rep. 287 (2012)