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Civil Rights — Eighth Amendment — qualified immunity

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit

Civil

Civil Rights — Eighth Amendment — qualified immunity

Officials at a juvenile detention facility were properly granted qualified immunity on a claim they were deliberately indifferent to an inmate’s suicide risk by having bunk beds in his room.

“It is one thing to impose a duty on detention facility personnel or prison guards to intervene actively when they see a resident or inmate who is, as we put it in Cavalieri, on the verge of suicide. If the state officers can observe or are told that their detainee is indeed so disturbed that his next step is likely to be suicide, and yet they do nothing, it is fair to say that they have gone beyond mere negligence and entered the territory of the deliberately indifferent. This is why Cavalieri and Sanville spoke of ‘imminence’ or ‘the verge’ of action. If Miller believes that this has not been the law of this circuit, she is mistaken. If she is arguing instead that we should change that standard, she has essentially conceded that the rule she proposes is not clearly established. Mental illness, including suicidal ideation, comes in many degrees of severity. For those who have had only a fleeting notion that suicide might be the answer, psychiatric care is normally the responsible option to take, rather than putting that person in a padded cell under 24- hour surveillance. Jamal’s case fell somewhere between these two extremes. He had a lengthy history of mental disturbances and disorders, wholly apart from the question of suicide, and he had tried to take his own life three times. At both times he entered IYC St. Charles, he appeared to the professionals there who evaluated him to be on a more solid footing. The law as it stood at the time Jamal was being assessed by the St. Charles personnel did not clearly require more from them.”

Affirmed.

11-3418 Miller v. Harbaugh

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Conlon, J., Wood, J.


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