US Supreme Court Ruling Impacts Jail Operations

The National Law Forum

On June 22, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued an important decision for all North Carolina counties operating county jails in which individuals are held detainees awaiting trial. In Kingsley v. Hendrickson, No. 14-6368, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 opinion authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, ruled that in excessive force claims brought by pretrial detainees, the plaintiff need only show the force used against him was objectively unreasonable, not that the officer subjectively intended to injure him. This case is important because the court had never before articulated what standard applies to the excessive force claims of those individuals charged, but not yet convicted, of crimes. For private citizens not charged or convicted of a crime, the standard is one of objective reasonableness (someone being arrested). For prisoners who have been convicted of a crime, the standard is higher and requires the plaintiff to show the officer subjectively intended to cause the harm. As accused…

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