There are often incidents or situations that can disrupt the life of a state prisoner. At San Quentin, the men in blue have several options to address the issues that affect them.
Mainliners often approach the Men’s Advisory Council (MAC.) Many are unaware that by state law, the MAC is an advisory body which acts as a liaison between prisoners and staff.
By state law, the MAC is prohibited from becoming involved with individual or personal complaints but may advise the administration for the welfare of prisoners as a whole. According to prison regulations, MAC representatives have no powers or authority.
Therefore, mainliners must know that they have a choice in how to resolve their issues. Prisoners can resolve their issues informally through dialogue with staff or they can seek to resolve them formally through an inmate request, a 602 appeal and, if need be, with court litigation.
For matters affecting the population as a whole, relief can sometimes be obtained through the advisory function of the MAC.
Prisoners should first try to resolve their issue informally through dialogue with custody staff or other institutional staff. Often, a respectful verbal request can resolve an issue, but sometimes it does not.
If it is an individual or personal issue, state prisoners may file a written grievance with the prison’s appeals coordinator. It begins with a request form, CDCR-22.
By state law, prisoners have a right to file a request using form CDCR-22 with the involved staff member who can resolve the issue.
If prisoners are unable to resolve the issue with a form 22, they have a state and federal constitutional right to file a CDCR-602 with the appeals coordinator. To help ensure that 602s make it to the appeals coordinator, locked 602 boxes for delivery of inmate appeals are located in various areas of the prison.
If the issue is appealed all the way to the Third Level in Sacramento, it means that the prisoner has exhausted all administrative remedies and may engage in court litigation. Depending on the issue, court litigation can occur in state or federal court.
Finally, if it is not a personal or individual issue and it does not involve disciplinary action (115 RVRs/128-As) or staff misconduct, and if the issue is affecting the population as a whole, the MAC may be able to help.
Prison regulations specifically state that the MAC may not involve itself with inmate appeals, shall not function as a grievance committee, and shall not have any responsibility or authority over state employees.
The MAC may only address issues of concern to the general inmate population and bring these matters to the attention of the warden and other administrative staff having authority to act on the matter.
The MAC has 12 advisory committees for the mainline population: Canteen, Food Services, Health Care, ILTAGs & Groups, Inmate Movies, Laundry, Mail, North Block, R&R, Recreation, Visiting and West Block. Dorm Representatives in H-Unit also advise staff through many of the same committees.