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Landmark Cases

Case Name: Dee FARMER v. Edward BRENNAN, et. al.

Date, Location, Cite: 1994 511 U.S. 825, 114 S.Ct. 1970
US Supreme Court WI

Farmer is a transsexual male who is serving 20 yrs in Federal prison; she remains biologically male, but has had breast implants. She sued in 1991 for violation of 8th Amendment rights when she was moved to a general population in Indiana, where she was raped. She said the Prison knew this was very likely, moved her anyway.

After years of legal maneuvers, the Supreme Court clarified the term "deliberate indifference," holding:

    [A] prison official can be found liable under the 8th Amendment for denying an inmate humane conditions of confinement if the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety.

The Court underscored that it was adopting a subjective test, and observed: "Under the test we adopt today, an 8th Amendment claimant need not show that a prison official acted believing that harm actually would befall an inmate; it is enough that the official acted or failed to act despite his knowledge of a substantial risk of serious harm."