In Ramos v. Hamblin (7th Cir. 2016), the Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an inmate’s suit alleging claims of failure to protect under the Eighth Amendment. The inmate claimed that he was perceived by inmates and jail staff to be homosexual and that the jail staff failed to protect him from rape by his cellmate, a man detained following his sexual assault of a woman.
The Court held that the officers did not act deliberately indifferent in failing to protect the inmate. The Court reasoned that there was nothing in the record indicating that the officers knew that the inmate was perceived to be homosexual or that the inmate expressed fretfulness about his cellmate prior to the rape. While the Court acknowledged that the inmate’s cellmate was convicted of sexual assault of a woman, he had not committed any sexual offenses while in prison. Thus, even though the officers may have acted negligently or even grossly negligent in housing these inmates together, they were not guilty of deliberate indifference for failing to know of the possibility that the inmate would be raped.