Publication Date



If prisoners are required by federal law to exhaust
institutional remedies before they may file suit in federal
court, should a prisoner with a legitimate claim suffer
dismissal by the federal court if the statute of limitations
lapses during the time the prisoner spends exhausting
administrative remedies? The Prisoner Litigation Reform
Act (PLRA) of 1996 offers no guidance. Federal courts
may choose to apply equitable tolling to a prisoner's claim
should this predicament arise, saving it from dismissal
based on tardiness, but nothing requires the court to do so.
The PLRA's enigmatic exhaustion requirement has
engendered much litigation, and the Supreme Court has
clarified its operation on several occasions. The Court has
not, however, had occasion to rule on whether the PLRA's
mandatory exhaustion requirement also includes a
mandatory tolling provision during the period of
exhaustion. Several of the circuit courts have addressed
the issue, but they are by no means uniform in their
treatment of the issue. This Note argues that the PLRA
should be amended to provide a tolling provision that
accompanies its exhaustion requirement. In the absence of
such amendment, this Note argues that for cases arising
under Georgia law, the Eleventh Circuit should adopt a
per se rule of tolling because Georgia's tolling doctrine
supports the application of tolling to prisoner suits
brought under the PLRA.