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Civil Team

The Civil Team at NCPLS provides legal assistance to people in North Carolina state prisons regarding the conditions of their imprisonment. The issues we address include assaults on clients by other prisoners; use of excessive force against clients by prison staff; prison staff interference with clients’ ability to practice their religion; inadequate medical care in prison, including mental health care; and other issues related to conditions of confinement in prisons. To report a concern regarding the conditions in a prison facility, you may contact us here.

Advice and Advocacy

We encourage any individual with questions or concerns regarding the conditions of their imprisonment to write to us. Depending on the nature of the concern, we may respond by providing guidance on ways for incarcerated people to advocate for themselves, providing information about the legal standards related to the issue they are experiencing, or requesting additional information so that we can review their case. We also provide guides and self-help packets for filing different types of civil suits. For issue-specific guidance, please visit our resources page.


Some issues can be resolved through communication between an incarcerated person and prison officials. For certain complex issues, we provide individual review of some cases and selective direct representation. We also are appointed in the federal district courts of the Eastern and Western Districts of North Carolina to assist with pro se Section 1983 lawsuits. In those cases, we obtain discovery on behalf of clients, provide representation during settlement conferences, assist with identifying defendants and preparing complaints, and assist with default judgments. We have negotiated settlements on behalf of clients pre-litigation. We have represented individual clients in federal and state courts, including before the Industrial Commission. And we have litigated class action lawsuits regarding conditions of confinement.

Jail civil concerns

We also assist people in custody in North Carolina jails through our Safe and Humane Jails Project. While we do not litigate jail issues, we provide information and guidance to clients and to jail administrators throughout the state regarding the constitutional rights of people in jail. By giving and receiving information about what goes on in North Carolina jails, we operate as a watchdog over the jails.

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