"Prison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution."


  Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987)

Our Work

Through a contract with the Office of Indigent Defense Services, NCPLS advocates for the rights of those incarcerated in North Carolina state prisons. We provide these services:


  • NCPLS post-conviction attorneys evaluate claims regarding the validity of an incarcerated person’s conviction or sentence, and work to correct any errors either informally or through litigation. This work ensures that our clients don't spend more time in prison than the law permits. Because incarceration is expensive -- roughly $100 a day per person -- this work also ends up saving North Carolina taxpayers a substantial amount of money every year.

  • NCPLS civil attorneys evaluate potential civil rights claims. These claims include use of force by prison staff; dangerous prison conditions; inadequate medical care; religious freedom; and free speech issues. NCPLS litigates these cases in court as resources permit. NCPLS also partners with the IOLTA-funded Safe and Humane Jails Project, which investigates issues arising out of county jails.

  • When NCPLS cannot litigate a case, we still provide legal advice and self-help packets on post-conviction and civil issues.

We do NOT provide the following services:


  • NCPLS does not provide copies of case law, statutes, or policies.

  • NCPLS does not answer hypothetical legal questions or provide general information about legal developments.

  • NCPLS does not address federal sentencing issues or civil issues arising in federal prisons.

  • NCPLS does not address issues involving legal disputes in other states.

  • NCPLS does not provide information on legal topics other than post-conviction or civil rights issues.  For example, we cannot answer questions relating to wills or estates, landlord-tenant disputes, child custody, divorce, Social Security, or other government benefits.