Innocent man forgotten in solitary confinement for two years, forced to remove own rotted teeth
Well this is just awful.
A $15.5 million settlement to a man who was confined in isolation for almost two years after he was charged but not convicted of driving while intoxicated is shedding light on the horror that can befall someone incarcerated even on mere allegations of criminal activity.
Stephen Slevin, arrested for a DWI and accused of driving a stolen car that he said he borrowed from a friend, was placed in solitary confinement shortly after he arrived at Dona Ana County Detention Center in New Mexico because he declined to post a $40,000 bond. After one medical examination, Slevin, who was severely depressed even before his arrest, was deemed suicidal and placed in a padded isolated cell with no natural light for 23 hours a day.
Once in that cell, Slevin faced an insurmountable battle in changing his circumstance, in spite of neglect so severe that his toenails grew to curl around his foot, he pulled out his own decaying tooth and fungus grew on his face. He sent letters saying “I’m afraid to close my eyes” and “I don’t know much longer I can go on.” But the only response he received was greater sedation, his lawyer told NBC News. After two years in this circumstance, the charges against Slevin were dropped and he was released, having never been found guilty of any crime. Slevin later sued and won a $22 million jury award, an amount that was upheld by a federal judge in a decision that sums up the horror of the conditions he withstood:
[The] evidence included letters written by Plaintiff seeking help, and sick call requests documenting Plaintiff’s suffering from bed sores on his thighs, fungus growing on his face, rotting teeth, pain, inability to sleep and nightmares where he could not sleep. … Medical records kept by the Detention Center similarly documented Plaintiff’s experience of pain and suffering, and the lack of treatment for his many medical and dental conditions. … Plaintiff … spent six months along in his cell with virtually no human contact before his release.
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