Excessive force on Rikers Island has been the subject of numerous class actions against New York City, including two cases brought by my law firm and others: Ingles v. Toro (S.D.N.Y. 01 Civ. 8279), and Nunez v. City of New York (S.D.N.Y. 11 Civ. 5845). But brutality by corrections officers against prisoners remains all too common in jails and prisons throughout New York State. The following is the basic standard for bringing civil rights actions for prison brutality by state or local corrections officers.

The Standard

42 U.S.C. §1983 provides: “Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State … subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable.” “Person[s]” include corrections officers who work for a municipality, county or state.