Justice Ginsburg, delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case concerns the obligation of prisoners who claim denial of their federal rights while incarcerated to exhaust prison grievance procedures before seeking judicial relief. Plaintiff-respondent Ronald Nussle, an inmate in a Connecticut prison, brought directly to court, without filing an inmate grievance, a complaint charging that corrections officers singled him out for a severe beating, in violation of the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishments." Nussle bypassed the grievance procedure despite a provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), 110 Stat. 1321-73, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1997e(a)
The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that § 1997e(a) governs only conditions affecting prisoners generally, not single incidents, such as corrections officers' use of excessive force, actions that immediately affect only particular prisoners. Nussle defends the Second Circuit's judgment, but urges that the relevant distinction is between excessive force claims, which, he says, need not be pursued administratively, and all other claims, which, he recognizes, must proceed first through the prison grievance process. We reject both readings and hold, in line with the text and purpose of the PLRA, our precedent in point, and the weight of lower court authority, that § 1997e(a)'s exhaustion requirement applies to all prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences.
Respondent Ronald Nussle is an inmate at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut. App. 38. According to his complaint, corrections officers at the prison subjected him to "a prolonged and sustained pattern of harassment and intimidation" from the time of his arrival there in May 1996. Id., at 39. Nussle alleged that he was singled out because he was "perceived" to be a friend of the Governor of Connecticut, with whom corrections officers were feuding over labor issues. Ibid.
Concerning the episode in suit, Nussle asserted that, on or about June 15, 1996, several officers, including defendantpetitioner Porter, ordered Nussle to leave his cell, "placed him against a wall and struck him with their hands, kneed him in the back, [and] pulled his hair." Ibid. Nussle alleged
Then, as now, the Connecticut Department of Correction provided a grievance system for prisoners. See id., at 5-18. Under that system, grievances must be filed within 30 days of the "occurrence." Id., at 11. Rules governing the grievance process include provisions on confidentiality and against reprisals. Id., at 17-18.
Without filing a grievance, on June 10, 1999, Nussle commenced an action in Federal District Court under 42 U. S. C. § 1983; he filed suit days before the three-year statute of limitations ran out on the § 1983 claim.
Construing § 1997e(a) narrowly because it is an exception "to the general rule of non-exhaustion in § 1983 cases," the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the District Court's judgment; the appeals court held that "exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required for [prisoner] claims of assault or excessive force brought under § 1983." Nussle v. Willette, 224 F.3d 95, 106 (2000). Section 1997e(a) requires administrative exhaustion of inmates' claims "with respect to prison conditions," but contains no definition of the words "prison conditions." The appeals court found
The Court of Appeals found support for its position in the PLRA's legislative history. Floor statements "overwhelmingly suggest[ed]" that Congress sought to curtail suits qualifying as "frivolous" because of their "subject matter," e. g., suits over "insufficient storage locker space," "a defective haircut," or "being served chunky peanut butter instead of the creamy variety." 224 F. 3d, at 105 (internal quotation marks omitted). Actions seeking relief from corrections officer brutality, the Second Circuit stressed, are not of that genre. Further, the Court of Appeals referred to pre-PLRA decisions in which this Court had "disaggregate[d] the broad category of Eighth Amendment claims so
In conflict with the Second Circuit, other Federal Courts of Appeals have determined that prisoners alleging assaults by prison guards must meet § 1997e(a)'s exhaustion requirement before commencing a civil rights action. See Smith v. Zachary, 255 F.3d 446 (CA7 2001); Higginbottom v. Carter, 223 F.3d 1259 (CA11 2000); Booth v. Churner, 206 F.3d 289 (CA3 2000); Freeman v. Francis, 196 F.3d 641 (CA6 1999). We granted certiorari to resolve the intercircuit conflict, 532 U.S. 1065 (2001), and now reverse the Second Circuit's judgment.
Ordinarily, plaintiffs pursuing civil rights claims under 42 U. S. C. § 1983 need not exhaust administrative remedies before filing suit in court. See Patsy v. Board of Regents of Fla., 457 U.S. 496, 516 (1982). Prisoner suits alleging constitutional deprivations while incarcerated once fell within this general rule. See Wilwording v. Swenson, 404 U.S. 249, 251 (1971) (per curiam).
In 1980, however, Congress introduced an exhaustion prescription for suits initiated by state prisoners. See Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 94 Stat. 352, as amended, 42 U. S. C. § 1997e (1994 ed.). This measure authorized district courts to stay a state prisoner's § 1983 action "for a period of not to exceed 180 days" while the prisoner exhausted available "plain, speedy, and effective administrative remedies." § 1997e(a)(1). Exhaustion under the 1980 prescription was in large part discretionary; it could be ordered only if the State's prison grievance system met specified federal standards, and even then, only if, in the particular case, the court believed the requirement "appropriate and in the interests of justice." §§ 1997e(a) and (b). We described
In 1996, as part of the PLRA, Congress invigorated the exhaustion prescription. The revised exhaustion provision, titled "Suits by prisoners," states: "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." 42 U. S. C. § 1997e(a) (1994 ed., Supp. V).
The current exhaustion provision differs markedly from its predecessor. Once within the discretion of the district court, exhaustion in cases covered by § 1997e(a) is now mandatory. See Booth v. Churner, 532 U.S. 731, 739 (2001). All "available" remedies must now be exhausted; those remedies need not meet federal standards, nor must they be "plain, speedy, and effective." See ibid.; see also id., at 740, n. 5. Even when the prisoner seeks relief not available in grievance proceedings, notably money damages, exhaustion is a prerequisite to suit. See id., at 741. And unlike the previous provision, which encompassed only § 1983 suits, exhaustion is now required for all "action[s] . . . brought with respect to prison conditions," whether under § 1983 or "any other Federal law." Compare 42 U. S. C. § 1997e (1994 ed.) with 42 U. S. C. § 1997e(a) (1994 ed., Supp. V). Thus federal prisoners suing under Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), must first exhaust inmate grievance procedures just as state prisoners must exhaust administrative processes prior to instituting a § 1983 suit.
Beyond doubt, Congress enacted § 1997e(a) to reduce the quantity and improve the quality of prisoner suits; to this
Congress described the cases covered by § 1997e(a)'s exhaustion requirement as "action[s] . . . brought with respect to prison conditions." Nussle's case requires us to determine what the § 1997e(a) term "prison conditions" means, given Congress' failure to define the term in the text of the exhaustion provision.
We did not "quarrel with" the prisoner's assertion in McCarthy that "the most natural reading of the phrase `challenging conditions of confinement,' when viewed in isolation, would not include suits seeking relief from isolated episodes of unconstitutional conduct." Id., at 139. We nonetheless concluded that the petitioner's argument failed upon reading the phrase "in its proper context." Ibid. We found no suggestion in § 636(b)(1)(B) that Congress meant to divide
"Just three years before [§ 636(b)(1)(B)] was drafted," we explained in McCarthy, "our opinion in Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), had described [the] two broad categories of prisoner petitions: (1) those challenging the fact or duration of confinement itself; and (2) those challenging the conditions of confinement." Ibid. Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475 (1973), left no doubt, we further stated in McCarthy, that "the latter category unambiguously embraced the kind of single episode cases that petitioner's construction would exclude." 500 U. S., at 141. We found it telling that Congress, in composing the Magistrates Act, chose language "that so clearly parallel[ed] our Preiser opinion." Id., at 142. We considered it significant as well that the purpose of the Magistrates Act—to lighten the caseload of overworked district judges—would be thwarted by opening the door to satellite litigation over "the precise contours of [the] suggested exception for single episode cases." Id., at 143.
As in McCarthy, we here read the term "prison conditions" not in isolation, but "in its proper context." Id., at 139. The PLRA exhaustion provision is captioned "Suits by prisoners," see § 1997e; this unqualified heading scarcely aids the argument that Congress meant to bisect the universe of prisoner suits. See ibid.; see also AlmendarezTorres v. United States, 523 U.S. 224, 234 (1998) ("[T]he title
This Court generally "presume[s] that Congress expects its statutes to be read in conformity with th[e] Court's precedents." United States v. Wells, 519 U.S. 482, 495 (1997). That presumption, and the PLRA's dominant concern to promote administrative redress, filter out groundless claims, and foster better prepared litigation of claims aired in court, see Booth, 532 U. S., at 737, persuade us that § 1997e(a)'s key words "prison conditions" are properly read through the lens of McCarthy and Preiser. Those decisions tug strongly away from classifying suits about prison guards' use of excessive force, one or many times, as anything other than actions "with respect to prison conditions."
Nussle places principal reliance on Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1 (1992), and Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 835-836 (1994), and the Second Circuit found support for its position in those cases as well, 224 F. 3d, at 106. Hudson held that to sustain a claim of excessive force, a prisoner need not show significant injury. 503 U. S., at 9. In so ruling, the Court did indeed distinguish excessive force claims from "conditions of confinement" claims; to sustain a claim of the latter kind "significant injury" must be shown. Id., at 8-9. Hudson also observed that a "conditions of confinement" claim may succeed if a prisoner demonstrates that prison officials acted with "deliberate indifference," id., at 8 (citing Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294, 298 (1991)), while a prisoner alleging excessive force must demonstrate that the defendant acted "maliciously and sadistically to cause harm," Hudson, 503 U. S., at 7. Farmer similarly distinguished the mental state that must be shown to prevail on an excessive force claim, i. e., "purposeful or knowing conduct," from the lesser mens rea requirement governing "conditions of confinement" claims, i. e., "deliberate indifference." 511 U. S., at 835-836. We do not question those decisions
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.
Other infirmities inhere in the Second Circuit's disposition. See McCarthy, 500 U. S., at 143 ("Petitioner's definition would generate additional work for the district courts because the distinction between cases challenging ongoing conditions and those challenging specific acts of alleged misconduct will often be difficult to identify."). As McCarthy emphasized, in the prison environment a specific incident may be symptomatic rather than aberrational. Id., at 143— 144. An unwarranted assault by a corrections officer may be reflective of a systemic problem traceable to poor hiring practices, inadequate training, or insufficient supervision. See Smith, 255 F. 3d, at 449. Nussle himself alleged in this very case not only the beating he suffered on June 15, 1996; he also alleged, extending before and after that date, "a prolonged and sustained pattern of harassment and intimidation by corrections officers." App. 39. Nussle urges that his case could be placed in the isolated episode category, but he might equally urge that his complaint describes a pattern or practice of harassment climaxing in the alleged beating. It seems unlikely that Congress, when it included in the PLRA a firm exhaustion requirement, meant to leave the need to exhaust to the pleader's option. Cf. Preiser, 411 U. S., at 489-490 ("It would wholly frustrate explicit congressional intent to hold that [prisoners] could evade this [exhaustion] requirement by the simple expedient of putting a different label on their pleadings.").
Under Nussle's view and that of the Second Circuit, moreover, bifurcation would be normal when a prisoner sues both
Finally, we emphasize a concern over and above the complexity augured by the Second Circuit's disposition: Scant sense supports the single occurrence, prevailing circumstance dichotomy. Why should a prisoner have immediate access to court when a guard assaults him on one occasion, but not when beatings are widespread or routine? See Smith, 255 F. 3d, at 450. Nussle's distinction between excessive force claims and all other prisoner suits, see supra, at 520, presents a similar anomaly. Do prison authorities have an interest in receiving prompt notice of, and opportunity to take action against, guard brutality that is somehow less compelling than their interest in receiving notice and an opportunity to stop other types of staff wrongdoing? See Preiser, 411 U. S., at 492 ("Since [the] internal problems of state prisons involve issues so peculiarly within state authority and expertise, the States have an important interest in not being bypassed in the correction of those problems.").
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For the reasons stated, we hold that the PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong. Cf. Wilson, 501 U. S., at 299, n. 1. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
"(b)(1) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary—
. . . . .
"a judge may . . .designate a magistrate to conduct hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to a judge of the court proposed findings of fact and recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the court, . . . of applications for posttrial relief made by individuals convicted of criminal offenses and of prisoner petitions challenging conditions of confinement."