testified that, as she was being raped, the officer, Michael Miller, asked, “Do you think you’re the first? This happens all the time.” After hearing the evidence, the jury took only 30 minutes to reach its verdict. 5 Allegations of brutality, even sexual abuse, are not limited to charges by female inmates against male officers. In January 2003, a male inmate of a Las Vegas correctional center filed a lawsuit asking $3 million in damages and alleging that a female officer forced him to become a sex slave. Ryan Layman claimed that between November 2000 and January 2001 he was forced to submit to sexual relations with CO Jennifer Burkley on numerous occasions. Burkley and another officer pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate, a misdemeanor. Both were accused of performing oral sex on jailed teens. They were each sentenced to two years’ probation. When she was sentenced, Burkley said, “It was wrong. . . . It should never have happened.” 6 5 “Rape Victim Wins Suit Against CO,” Corrections Professional 8(19) (June 20, 2003): n.p. 6 “Lawsuits Increasingly Allege Sexual Assault by Female COs,” Corrections Professional 8(14) (April 11, 2003): n.p.
167 Supplement 10.2. Examples of Cases in which the U.S. Supreme Court Has Found Specific Prison Practices to Be Unconstitutional In 1991, in Wilson v. Seiter , the Court held that, “if the pain inflicted is not formal ly meted out as punishment by the statute or the sentencing judge, some mental element must be attributed to the inflicting officer before it can qualify.” The Court interpreted the Constitution to require that, when inmates question prison conditions, they must show a negative state of mind of officials in order to win their cases. Specifically, they must prove that prison officials harbored deliberate indifference . Dissenters noted correctly that in many cases this standard would be difficult if not impossible to prove. 1 In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court applied a subjective rather than an objective standard to determine whether prison officials have the required state of mind to constitute deliberate indifference. Farmer v. Brennan involved an inmate who was biologically male but had some characteristics of a woman. He alleged that he was raped by another inmate after he was incarcerated in an all-male prison. He argued that placing a transsexual in an all-male population constituted deliberate indifference to his safety. Officials should have known of the risks involved because a reasonable person (the objective standard) would have known that. The Supreme Court rejected the objective standard, stating that prison officials may be held liable for unsafe prison conditions only if they “know that inmates face a substantial risk of serious harm and disregard that risk by failing to take reasonable measures to abate it.” 2 In 1992, in Hudson v. McMillian , the U.S. Supreme Court held that inmates may bring actions for cruel and unusual punishment against prison officials who engage in physical force that results in injuries, even if those injuries are not significant. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
- Fall '12
- Supreme Court of the United States, United States Supreme Court