Prisoner gets $15.5 million: A New Mexico man who spent 22 months in solitary confinement without being charged or convicted got a $15.5 million settlement this week.
A man who was left in solitary confinement for nearly two years straight in a New Mexico jail received a $15.5 million settlement because his mental and physical health severely deteriorated while he was imprisoned.
Stephen Slevin, 59, said the solitary confinement in a Dona Ana County jail traumatized him and made him physically weak. He was arrested on a drunk driving charge and on suspicion that he stole a car, according to CNN. However, he was never tried and convicted of the charges, making his long imprisonment all the more perplexing.
But while in jail, he was isolated from other inmates and was basically forgotten about, CNN said. The lawsuit said that in 2005, he was a “a well nourished, physically healthy adult,” but 22 months later, he had long hair, messed up teeth, bed sores, and weighed 133 pounds, the lawsuit said. He lost around 50 pounds while imprisoned.
NBC News reported that Slevin was denied access to a dentist and was forced to pull out his own tooth. He also said that fungus grew and festered on his skin.
Slevin’s “mental health has been severely compromised from the time he was in that facility,” lawyer Matt Coyte told the network.
“That continues to be the same,” he added. “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 said that he wrote letters while he was in jail to let him go.
“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,” Slevin was quoted by KOB4-TV as saying in January 2012.
Last January, he was awarded $22 million, but a Dona Ana County court refused to settle with him and refused to pay him. However, this week, the county agreed to pay him around $6.5 million less, which was decided during a court mediation, reported NBC.
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