U.S. Commission on Civil Rights



Federal criminal civil rights law prohibits law enforcement agents from conspiring to interfere with federally protected rights, depriving rights under color of law, or using or conspiring to use force, or threat of force, to interfere with the free exercise of your civil rights.

To report criminal activities that constitute violations of civil rights, contact:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Criminal Section, PHB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 514-3204
Fax: (202) 514-8336

If you have a complaint of police brutality or the abuse of your rights by the police or other public officials, contact the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), listed in the front of your telephone directory under police, or write to the Department of Justice at the address above.

An individual who believes that a law enforcement agency receiving Department of Justice assistance, such as a police or sheriff s department, jail, state police, or corrections system, is discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or age may file a complaint with:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Coordination and Review Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 307-2222
TTY: (202) 307-2678
Fax: (202) 307-0595


U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office for Civil Rights
810 Seventh Street, NW, Room 8124
Washington, DC 20531
(202) 307-0690
TTY: (202) 307-2027
Fax: (202) 616-9865

Complaints of discrimination on the basis of disability by law enforcement agencies may also be sent to:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 307-2227
(800) 514-0301
TTY: (800) 514-0383
Fax: (202) 307-1198


The constitutional rights of inmates are very limited. Prisoners rights that are protected are:

Also, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution requires that the conditions of women's prisons be equal to the conditions under which male prisoners are held, and vice versa.

If you are confined to a Federal Bureau of Prisons institution and believe you have been discriminated against by the institution, you should file a formal written complaint at the institution within 20 calendar days of the incident. Extensions of time will be granted where there is a valid reason for the delay. You should follow the internal grievance procedure unless you think that your complaint is such that you might be adversely affected if the nature of the complaint became known within the institution, in which case you may file the complaint with the appropriate Regional Director of the Bureau of Prisons. Your complaint should include an explanation of why you have chosen to file with the Regional Director. If the complaint alleges that your health or welfare is immediately threatened, the warden must respond through the regional office within 48 hours of receiving the complaint.

If you are confined to a non-federal institution and want to file a complaint about conditions or practices of the institution, follow the internal grievance procedure of the institution. In some prison systems it is necessary to file an institutional grievance before filing suit in federal court.

Under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, the Attorney General is authorized to file suit on behalf of inmates at a given institution to redress systematic deprivations of inmates constitutional rights. To file a complaint with the Attorney General, write to:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 514-6255
(877) 218-5228
Fax: (202) 514-0212

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prisoners with disabilities, particularly prisoners with HIV, may have a right to participate in various services, programs, and activities. Complaints of discrimination under the ADA should be filed with the Department of Justice within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act.