North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services (NCPLS) provides legal assistance to inmates in the North Carolina Department of Correction (DOC) ranging from advice about prisoner’s legal rights to representation in litigation in state and federal court. We accept cases based on referrals from attorneys as well as direct requests from inmates or individuals acting on behalf of inmates incapable of requesting legal assistance. The organization is divided into three “teams” of attorneys and paralegals: Post-Conviction, Civil, and Support Services.
The Post-Conviction team’s focus is correcting legal errors in inmates’ convictions or sentences (including errors in jail credit) either through litigation or informally. The Post-conviction team also represents inmates who are facing collateral consequences as a result of their immigration status.
The Civil team’s focus is on conditions of confinement within DOC and county jail facilities Issues of concern to the Civil team include negligent provision of medical care, failure to protect cases, excessive force by guards, and unsafe or inhumane conditions.
The Safe and Humane Jails Project is funded by an IOLTA grant from the North Carolina State Bar. The Project investigates and litigates use of excessive force at arrest and in custody; failure to protect an individual from a risk of serious injury; unsafe, inhumane, overcrowded conditions; indifference to, or neglect of, serious medical or mental health needs.
Often inmates request basic legal information on topics that NCPLS does not litigate. The Support Services team supplies these inmates with basic legal information on issues such as how to file for a divorce or seek a legal name change. The Support Services team can also provide basic materials on issues such as understanding North Carolina’s sentencing laws or how to file a pro se lawsuit.