Under the Constitution, everyone is entitled to certain rights. Unfortunately, law enforcement and corrections officers do not always uphold those rights.
42 U.S.C. §1982 (typically referred to as “Section 1983”) is a statute that has its origins in the Civil War and the turbulent period of Reconstruction that followed. After the Civil War, Congress passed the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, also known as the “Reconstruction Amendments.” The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed due process and equal protection of the law to all Americans. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited states from denying the right to vote based on race. Taken together, these amendments forced local governments to fulfill their constitutional duties.
The period of Reconstruction, however, also inspired a fierce backlash. Militias sprung up across the south and targeted former slaves with indescribable acts of violence. The most famous of these groups was the Ku Klux Klan. In many circumstances, the reign of violent organizations was enabled and supported by law enforcement officers, judges, and politicians.
Congress responded by passing the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. Section 1 of the Ku Klux Klan Act, now codified as 42 U.S.C. §1983 targeted state officials who “deprived persons of their constitutional rights.” This section was directed at the local officials who enabled the lawlessness of the Klan, as Congress that the whole system needed to change.
Section 1983 provides, in relevant part:
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, 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 to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…”
If a government official violates your civil rights, you may have a Section 1983 claim. The attorneys at Krutch Lindell believe that everyone deserves to be treated fairly by their government and represent the victims and surviving family members of victims who have suffered serious injury or death due to police brutality and neglect in jails and prisons.