In 2005, Stephen Slevin was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and stealing a car. Slevin said he borrowed the car from a friend.
Somehow Slevin spent 22 months in solitary confinement in a Dona Ana County, New Mexico jail in spite of never being officially convicted of a crime. Even worse, he was never even taken before a judge.
During his time in solitary, Slevin’s mental health deteriorated, fungus grew on his skin, and he had to pull one of his own teeth because he was denied access to dental care. Although Slevin wrote letters begging for help for his depression, nothing changed.
According to Matt Coyte, Slevin’s attorney, Stephen was already battling depression at the time of his arrest. Now, adding insult to injury, he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder due to his jail time and was recently diagnosed with cancer.
After suing, Slevin was awarded $22 million by a jury, but Dona Ana County appealed. A recent settlement resulted in Slevin receiving $15.5 million.
Slevin’s attorney told NBC News that his client’s mental health has been severely compromised from the time he was in that facility. That continues to be the same. No amount of money will bring back what they took away from him. But, it’s nice to be able to get him some money so he can improve where he is in life and move on.
Slevin told KOB4-TV, Why they did what they did, I’ll never know. Walking by me, watching me deteriorate day after day after day, and they did nothing at all to get me help.
How does someone remain in jail – in or out of solitary confinement – without ever being brought before a judge? Supposedly the jail is making an effort to improve the way it treats prisoners with mental illness. One can only hope!