Filed: June 21, 2022
Court: Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Overview: This amicus brief explains why requiring prisoners with disabilities to go through additional administrative burdens to file grievances when in prison violates the ADA and Section 504.
Excerpt: The purpose of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA in this context is to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not required to navigate draconian systems just to access the same program as similarly situated people without a disability, based solely on their disability status. The decision of the district court represents a classic example of a person with a disability being forced to jump through more hoops than is required of their non-disabled brethren…Only prisoners with disabilities are required to “exhaust” the additional procedure; prisoners without disabilities are not. Rather than ensuring that the barriers faced are no greater for a person with a disability, the decision of the Court below ignores the purpose behind the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA by erecting additional barriers for individuals with disabilities. While complying with complex administrative grievance processes can be challenging for anyone, prisoners with disabilities face unique challenges. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations to those prisoners only exacerbates those challenges. Singling out this exact population for additional complex grievance requirements will undermine the enforcement of disability law in prisons without any countervailing benefit in screening out meritorious claims.