You can hold a jail liable for an assault or attack by another prisoner but these cases are awfully tough and you have to have the right set of facts to get past all the immunities that jail and prison personnel have. As one can understand, there are a lot of bad people in jails and prisons and you cannot hold a jailer or correctional officer liable for allowing just any attack or assault to happen. Bad things will happen in jails and prisons but when a state takes custody of a person the federal constitution imposes on it a duty to assume some degree of responsibility for the person’s safety and general well-being.
In order to prevail in a “failure to protect” claim, a plaintiff must show that the defendant prison officials were aware of the substantial risk of an attack and acted with deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s need to be protected from such attack, and failed to protect the plaintiff from the attack. Thus, both knowledge of the attack and intent are required elements of the cause of action. Thus, if an inmate told prison officials that he was going to be attacked and the prison officials turned a blind eye or even took steps to make the attack more likely to occur, an inmate may potentially have a claim. As one example, one court has found that when a guard unlocked an inmates cell while he was sleeping and allowed inmates to enter the cell to attack him, a reasonable jury could find the correctional officer was exposing the victim to a substantial risk of harm and a failure to protect claim was allowed to proceed before a jury.
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