View Full Version : How to file a citizen's complaint

01-03-2009, 06:27 AM
I have a friend at a california prison, and he wants me to make a citizen's complaint (cdc 2142) on his behalf. He has made a declaration were he lists up the problems he has. Being retaliated against, tried being housed with “enemies”, denied canteen, package and exercise and other things. He has named some co's he wants me to request fired in the complaint.

I do believe him, so can i make a complaint towards named co's based only on what he has told me ?

01-03-2009, 07:17 AM
I have a friend at a california prison, and he wants me to make a citizen's complaint (cdc 2142) on his behalf. He has made a declaration were he lists up the problems he has. Being retaliated against, tried being housed with “enemies”, denied canteen, package and exercise and other things. He has named some co's he wants me to request fired in the complaint.

I do believe him, so can i make a complaint towards named co's based only on what he has told me ?

I'm not an attorney, but if all you have to file a complaint is what he says, to me it would all be hearsay unless he has sent you some type of documentation.

I actually have documents showing wrong-doing by doctors and they still will not do anything.

Good Luck

01-03-2009, 10:02 AM
I have a friend at a california prison, and he wants me to make a citizen's complaint (cdc 2142) on his behalf. He has made a declaration were he lists up the problems he has. Being retaliated against, tried being housed with “enemies”, denied canteen, package and exercise and other things. He has named some co's he wants me to request fired in the complaint.

I do believe him, so can i make a complaint towards named co's based only on what he has told me ?
I don't think you would get far complaining about things that have happened to him, and not you. Generally a citizens complaint is for an action that has affected you. Have you suggested to your friend that he appeal these issues himself, and it might be wise for him to appeal them one at a time, a list of complaints in a 602 doesn't usually get much attention

01-03-2009, 11:12 AM
This is from an older PTO post by Bob-bi-lu:

Prisoners, and non-prisoners who have had contact with CDC, can file a special complaint, known as a "Citizens Complaint," challenging a CDC policy or practice.

What is a prisoner "citizens complaint?"
A prisoner can file a citizen's complaint against a peace/correctional officer alleging employee misconduct. The citizen's complaint works much the same way as a regular 602 with a few exceptions:

· There is a one year, not 15 day, time requirement to file the complaint.
· The informal first level is bypassed.
· The formal first level may be bypassed at the discretion of CDC.
· The 602 - if alleged against a peace officer - must include a signed Rights and Responsibilities Statement, CDC Form 1858, or else it will be rejected, unless the Director allows the prisoner to sign Form 1858 at the appeal interview. Form 1858 ensures that the prisoner knows that it is illegal to knowingly file a complaint against a peace officer. To do otherwise is a misdemeanor.
(See Penal Code Sec. 148.6 and 15 CCR Sec. 3084.1(e).

Once filed, the warden or chief deputy warden determines
whether an investigation is warranted. If ordered, investigations are categorized as either Category I or II. Prisoner and others are notified of the status and or findings of the investigation(s) only when complete.

If no formal investigation is warranted, the appeal is referred back to the first level.

What kind of "citizen's complaints" can be filed a non-prisoner?

A "citizen's complaint" from a non-prisoner can be filed by writing the warden of a prison or head administrator of the parole region where the officer is employed. Non-prisoners also must submit a signed CDC Form 1858. Complaints by non-prisoners must be answered in 30 days unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

If answered, a citizen's complaint will be referred for CDC investigation.
The specific findings are only available upon conclusion of the
investigation. Both complaints and reports must be maintained for 5 years.

In addition to or as a compliment to the 602 process, grievances may belodged with the following persons/institutions:

1. CDC Ombudsmen
(who is a CDC employee appointed to investigate complaints)

CDC Ombudsmen
1515 S Street, 5th Floor
North Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

2. State Personnel Board
(any non-prisoner may file a complaint against a state employee here)

State Personnel Board
Merit Appeals Office
801 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 94244

3. Office of Internal Affairs
(prisoner or other persons can request investigations of staff misconduct)

Office of Internal Affairs
P.O. Box 3009
Sacramento, CA 95812

4. Office of Inspector General
(especially created to investigate prisoner and youth facility problems)

Office of the Inspector General
801 K Street, Suite 1900
Sacramento, CA 95814

01-03-2009, 11:23 AM
Prison Appeals Systems -- The Citizen's Complaint

What we are generally referred to as "Citizen's Complaints" in California are based on Penal Code §832.5 (see Footnote 1) , and are complaints which can be made by any citizen, including prisoners, against a person who has Peace Officer status. California prison guards are peace Officers under state law. The California Department of Corrections ("CDC") also has a different type of citizen's complaint procedure where any citizen, except prisoners, can bring a complaint regarding Institution or Department policies or procedures. The two different processes are often confused and/or mixed together.

For free citizens, the Penal Code ("PC") §832.5 complaint made against prison staff is made directly to the Warden of the Institution. (Ed. note: You can also make it directly to Sacto, or the folks who represent you at the Capitol, or the Ombudsman's Office.) The policy and procedures by a free citizen is done in exactly the same manner, so for any non-prisoner free citizen there is little difference in the process. However, for prisoners, only the PC §832.5 citizen's complaint is available, and it must be done through the regular appeals process. The policies and procedures type citizens' complaint directly to the Warden is unavailable to prisoners. In theory, both a prisoner and a free citizen should also be able to make a citizen's complaint directly to the CDC Internal Affairs Division, the Inspector General's Office, or the Attorney General's Office. In practice, however, these agencies want the prisoner to first go through the regular appeals process, often at great personal risk.

The policies and procedures type citizen's complaint for free citizens is not located with the regular appeals regulations, but rather is in with the visiting regulations. However, the statutory language is such that it appears to apply to all appeals, not just visiting appeals, when filed by persons other than prisoners. Based on practice and procedure, complaints are indeed accepted for any issue by following the guidelines set forth in Title 15, California Code of Regulations ("15 CCR"), §3178 (b) (See Footnote 2 for text). While this is a form of a citizen's complaint, and sometimes called such, it is not necessarily pursuant to PC §832.5, but can be a PC §832.5 complaint. It can apply to any type of complaint by a non-prisoner.

As a tactical method, when attempting to draw quick attention to a problem, it has been long recommended that the prisoner pursue the issue through the regular appeals system, in California the Form CDC-602, while at the same time, the concerned free citizen also files a parallel complaint through the citizen's complaint process. If there are any intentions of subsequent litigation, then the prisoner must pursue his complaint through each and every step of the three tiered process to satisfy exhaustion of administrative remedy requirements.

When a prisoners wish to file a civil rights violation lawsuit pursuant to Title 42, United States Code ("USC"), §1983, in federal court, the prisoner must now first fulfill the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), part of which is located at 42 USC, §19976 (a) (see Footnote 3). The issue is unsettled in the courts as to whether or not a citizen's complaint will fulfill the PLRA requirements, therefore, current thinking is the prisoner should exhaust the regular appeals process in addition to any citizen's complaint.
To date, the only exceptions to the regular appeals process were where the system was not available to the prisoner, e.g., a medical condition may not permit the prisoners to timely file a regular appeal on his own behalf, incompetent prisoners, illiterate prisoners, etc., may possibly allow the filing of a citizen's complaint by another on behalf of the aggrieved prisoners to be accepted as a demonstration of exhaustion of administrative remedies. However, the burden will be on the prisoner to affirmatively prove these unusual circumstances made the regular appeals system unavailable to him. The defendants, usually represented by the State Attorney General, will surely bring a Motion for Summary Judgment on this failure to exhaust issue.

As one federal court in Sacramento stated in an unpublished order that cited the Third Circuit, "Thus, the California citizen's complaint procedure would appear to encompass the characteristics of an available administrative remedy--that is, the citizen complaint process is understandable, expeditious, and treated seriously. Nyhius v. Reno, 204 F.3d 64, 67 (3rd. Cir. 2000). See also In Re Bayside Prison Litigation, 190 F.Supp.2d 755, 769-73 (D.N.J. 2002). Nevertheless, the question remains whether an inmate can bypass the 'ordinary' prison grievance system in favor of the more streamlined citizen's complaint by having an outsider file the complaint."

This is a very unsettled area of law, a gray area, and therefore it is always recommended that the prisoner make every effort to exhaust administrative remedy through the regular prison grievance system. In the above example, the court is referring to the filing of the citizen's complaint by another on behalf of a prisoner who was medically unable to utilize the regular appeals process. In that case a final decision has not yet been made, however, the magistrate is recommending dismissal because the prisoner has only alleged the medical condition prevented access to the regular appeals process, but cannot prove this fact adequately even though CDC medical records admit to the broken bones and other injuries. This is not enough, the prisoners is also expected to be able to prove the degree of pain from the injuries, and that the level of pain was so debilitating that it rendered the prisoner unable to file an appeal through the regular appeals system. This type of proof would require access to staff and inmate witness that is not allowed to pro se prisoner.

However, if the prisoner were to file a PC §832.5 citizen's complaint through the regular appeals process (see Footnote 4), there is every reason to believe this would satisfy the PLRA for the issues covered in such an appeal--providing the prisoner completely exhausts all three levels of the process. There are many requirements and hurdles for a prisoner inside the prison to overcome to utilize these appeals systems, but few requirements for the free citizen outside the prison to file a complaint.

For persons wishing to make PC §832.5 citizen's complaints against other Peace Officers, e.g., county sheriff deputies, or local police officers, each department has a procedure and will provide a form upon request. These complaints are normally processed by the department's Internal Affairs Division ("IAD"), and are taken quite seriously in most departments. Citizen's complaints on any governmental agency can also be made to a county grand jury by requesting a form from the County Clerk.
ED. NOTE: The problem remains, that anyone who has dealt with a governmental agency is well aware of, is that when an administrative agency is in systemic denial of its problems, a much publicized common occurrence in the California prison system, these problems will be denied in any complaint, including the citizen's complaint. However, an administrator is far less likely to put his or her name on a denial to a free citizen's complaint than on a denial sent to a prisoner. Especially without first investigating the alleged problem. Prisoner complaints are systematically denied without investigation.

Agencies also often deny any wrong doing to avoid admitting liability, and thus giving an admission which could be used against them in a lawsuit, while quietly making internal changes to avoid recurrence of the problem. Accordingly, often an appeal of any type will usually be denied in writing, yet the desired results are accomplished. The courts are wise to this game, e.g., an after the fact creation of a new regulation or policy reinforces the conclusion that there was no policy in place at the time of an incident. (See Newell v. Sauser (9th Cir. 1996) 79 F.3d 115.) The same would be true of an after the fact change in a policy or procedure to cover an incident. The agency just won't admit the prisoner had a meritorious appeal. Prisoners often have their appeals denied with the statement, "We were following procedures," yet even though denied on paper in the appeal answer, that procedure is never seen again. Therefore a denial of an appeal is not necessarily a loss.

Also consider the lack of logic in such a statement, "We were following procedures," or the close relative of this the Nuremberg defense, "I was just following orders," which failed to work for the Nazis. Or the common PC §832.5 officer complaint response, "Officer XXX is an officer in good standing." As if that statement addresses any particular issue. Avoidance is something prison appeal responses are well known for using.

Although the citizen's complaint procedure does not generally satisfy administrative appeal exhaustion requirements for prisoners prior to proceeding to litigation, it does have its uses. When quick problem resolution is needed, there is no faster method than a complaint made by a person who is not a prisoner. Many states other than California also have similar provisions. Citizens in those states need to learn the procedures in their state.
Footnote 1 -- Penal Code §832.5: 832.5. (a) (1) Each department or agency in this state that employs peace officers shall establish a procedure to investigate complaints by members of the public against the personnel of these departments or agencies, and shall make a written description of the procedure available to the public. (2) Each department or agency that employs custodial officers, as defined in Section 831.5, may establish a procedure to investigate complaints by members of the public against those custodial officers employed by these departments or agencies, provided however, that any procedure so established shall comply with the provisions of this section and with the provisions of Section 832.7. (b) Complaints and any reports or findings relating to these complaints shall be retained for a period of at least five years. All complaints retained pursuant to this subdivision may be maintained either in the peace or custodial officer's general personnel file or in a separate file designated by the department or agency as provided by department or agency policy, in accordance with all applicable requirements of law. However, prior to any official determination regarding promotion, transfer, or disciplinary action by an officer's employing department or agency, the complaints described by subdivision (c) shall be removed from the officer's general personnel file and placed in separate file designated by the department or agency, in accordance with all applicable requirements of law. (c) Complaints by members of the public that are determined by the peace or custodial officer's employing agency to be frivolous, as defined in Section 128.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, or unfounded or exonerated, or any portion of a complaint that is determined to be frivolous, unfounded, or exonerated, shall not be maintained in that officer's general personnel file. However, these complaints shall be retained in other, separate files that shall be deemed personnel records for purposes of the California Public Records Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 6250) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code) and Section 1043 of the Evidence Code. (1) Management of the peace or custodial officer's employing agency shall have access to the files described in this subdivision. (2) Management of the peace or custodial officer's employing agency shall not use the complaints contained in these separate files for punitive or promotional purposes except as permitted by subdivision (f) of Section 3304 of the Government Code. (3) Management of the peace or custodial officer's employing agency may identify any officer who is subject to the complaints maintained in these files which require counseling or additional training. However, if a complaint is removed from the officer's personnel file, any reference in the personnel file to the complaint or to a separate file shall be deleted. (d) As used in this section, the following definitions apply: (1) "General personnel file" means the file maintained by the agency containing the primary records specific to each peace or custodial officer's employment, including evaluations, assignments, status changes, and imposed discipline. (2) "Unfounded" means that the investigation clearly established that the allegation is not true. (3) "Exonerated" means that the investigation clearly established that the actions of the peace or custodial officer that formed the basis for the complaint are not violations of law or department policy.
Footnote 2 -- 15 CCR §3178 (b) "Persons other than inmates should address any appeal relating to department policy and regulations to the Director of Corrections. Appeals relating to facility and institution procedures and practices should be addressed, in writing, to the warden, superintendent or regional parole administrator of the facility or institution where an issue of appeal arises. The warden, superintendent or regional parole administrator shall provide a written response within 15 working days. Appeals that are not satisfactorily resolved at this level may be referred in writing to the director. The director shall have 20 working days from the date of receipt to provide a written response."
Footnote 3 -- 42 U.S.C. §1997e (a) "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under §1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoners confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." (See also Booth v. Churner (2001) 532 U.S. 731, 121 S.Ct. 1819; Porter v. Nussle (2002) 122 S.Ct. 983.)
Footnote 4 -- 15 CCR §§ 3084.5 (a)(3)(G), 3084.1(e), 3084.3 (c)(5), 3291 (b, 3391 (d).

CDCR Ombudsmen
The California State Legislature has established an Ombudsman's Office for the CDCR. This office reviews prison-related issues, as they relate to complaints from inmates, families and friends of inmates, and advocacy groups. The Ombudsman also reports to and acts as an advisor to the CDCR Secretary and Undersecretary. The Ombudsmen assist CDCR staff in forming corrective action plans, and are involved with the developing and implementing of new procedures and policies.

Anyone can request help from the CDCR Ombudsmen about any issue of confinement, other than issues relating to sentencing, a criminal case, or INS deportation. An Ombudsman is an internal troubleshooter--a CDCR employee who has been appointed to investigate inmate complaints. There is one Lead Ombudsman, and several individual Ombudsmen who are assigned to help prisoners at certain prisons.

The most effective way to get help from the Ombudsman is to briefly describe the problem, and what has already been done to try to resolve it (for example, talking to staff, filing 602s, writing outside organizations). Try to be brief and clear. Do not include information on every problem the prisoner ever had--focus on the one or two problems that are most urgent.

Any prisoner can write to the ombudsman at the relevant prison as well, at the addresses included on the table, below. If an ombudsman is not assigned to your prison, you or your loved one should address the letter to the head of the department, Mr. Ken Hurdle. Prisoners and family members can also write to the Ombudsmen at their Sacramento address (a prisoner should write Confidential Legal Mail on the envelope). If there is no ombudsman assigned to the prison, a prisoner or family member can write to Ken Hurdle.

Ombudsman's Office:
P.O. Box 348780
Sacramento, CA 95834
physical location of offices:
1515 “S” Street, 540 North, Sacramento, CA 95814
phone # (916) 445-1773 – MAIN NUMBER
fax # (916) 324-8263

Anyone can file a complaint of misconduct by correctional agencies or employees by calling the Office of the Inspector General toll-free at (800) 700-5952 , by sending a fax to (916) 928-5974 , or by writing to:
Office of the Inspector General
P.O. Box 348780
Sacramento, CA 95834-8780
Contact the Office of the inspector General by e-mail at: (
Note that e-mail is intended to help you contact the Office of the Inspector General, but e-mail messages are not secure or confidential. Therefore, please limit e-mail messages to non-confidential information.

Before You Make a Complaint
Before making a complaint to the Office of the Inspector General concerning misconduct by a correctional agency, you should attempt to complete the agency's standard investigative, appeals, or grievance procedure. If you think an investigation has been improperly conducted, however, you may call the Office of the Inspector General.
You should provide as much evidence as you can to support your complaint, including letters, memos, copies of complaint forms and responses, notes from conversations, names of witnesses, a journal describing the history of the situation, and any other information you may have that could validate your claim.

By law, all complaints must be submitted in writing. If you make your complaint by telephone, you will eventually be asked to send a written complaint. Additional supporting materials or other information also may be requested. Any information you provide to the Office of the Inspector General will be kept confidential.
The Office of the Inspector General is not authorized to provide legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a private attorney or your local Legal Aid office.
How the Office of the Inspector General will Handle Your Complaint.
The Office of the Inspector General will review your complaint and take one of the following actions:

Refer the complaint to the internal affairs office of the agency in question for an initial investigation. In most cases an initial investigation will be required before the Inspector General can take action.
Refer the complaint to the internal affairs office of the agency in question for further investigation. If an initial investigation has been done, the Office of the Inspector General will review the case to determine whether the investigation was done properly. If the Inspector General finds that the investigation was not done properly, we will note the problems and instruct the agency to re-investigate the case.
Investigate the case. If the complaint falls outside of the agency's jurisdiction, there is a conflict of interest involving the agency, or if the Office of the Inspector General determines that an independent review is necessary, the Office of the Inspector General will investigate the case.
Refer criminal misconduct to law enforcement authorities. At any point in the investigation, the Office of the Inspector General can refer cases of criminal misconduct to the proper law enforcement authorities.
Close the inquiry. If the Office of the Inspector General finds after a preliminary review that there is insufficient evidence to support your claim, your inquiry may be closed without further action.

Matthew Cate, Inspector General
Office of the Inspector General
Youth and Adult Correctional Agency
PO Box 348780
Sacramento, CA 95834

It is highly recommended that you go to the Office of the Inspector General webpage, and take a look at what this agency is working on. You may follow this link: (

CDCR Office of Internal Affairs
If the problem is a serious allegation of staff misconduct, a prisoner or family member can request an investigation by the CDC&R Office of Internal Affairs. The prisoner should exhaust the 602 process first. A friend or family member call the Internal Affairs office, but they prefer contact by mail.

Thomas Moore, Assistant Director
Office of Internal Affairs

P.O. Box 3009

Sacramento, CA 95812

(916) 323-5769

(Information posted here was found at this link):

01-03-2009, 11:47 AM
Thank's for the information, now i have some reading to do.

01-03-2009, 11:59 AM
:lol: A LOT of reading to do!

01-04-2009, 02:07 PM
he needs to be careful talking about wanting particular C.O's to be fired- it's one thing to appeal an action that is wrong, but when an inmate or the family starts going after a particular correctional officer that can get kinda ugly and it is highly unlikely that the C.O. would be fired, or even transferred, in my opinion that kind of action should be reserved for extreme situations

07-02-2009, 10:59 AM
where do we file a complaint against a probation officer in Florida

07-02-2009, 01:20 PM
where do we file a complaint against a probation officer in Florida
you might have better luck asking that in the Florida forum

12-28-2012, 11:40 PM
Who do you file a complaint with against High Desert State Prison in Susanville for not turning on the heaters for the inmates? Many of the inmates are freezing cold especially in the cold/snow climate weather,even after layering up many clothes and socks it is still ice bone chilling cold. If anyone can direct me to the right person that would be great.

If you have a loved one at HDSP ask your loved one how cold it is and they do not turn on the heaters for the inmates which is horrible.