I am not clear how this happens in America in 2013. Steve Slevin was pulled over for DWI in Dona Ana County, New Mexico. Slevin was soon placed in padded cell in the jail’s floor, naked with only a suicide smock on, as a form of detoxification. Slevin then went into medical observation for a few weeks, due to depression. He was placed in an observation cell with its own shower, toilet and a window so he could be observed. From there they transferred him to solitary confinement, where he would spend the next 22 months. He was never arraigned on any charge; he never saw a judge; he was not provided with a lawyer; he never got medical treatment; he just sat in solitary confinement while the County waited for . . .I don’t know what – for him to automatically get better? Over the first three months in the segregation cell, Slevin was able to write letters, some of which were to his sister, others of which were correspondences asking his jailers for assistance — stating that he needed medical attention, that he couldn’t sleep, or he was starting to have panic attacks. After three months in solitary confinement, Slevin became delirious. At that point, he sat back and forth and began rocking. From January 2006 until May of 2007, “he just rocked back and forth,” his lawyer Matt Coyte told ABC news.
Slevin would only get out of his small cell at first, a few times every month. After that, there were periods up to four months when he did not leave. Though he was given food and medication during these periods, he was not bathing. He had fungus on his skin,his teeth were rotting. He began to deteriorate. In this period he had an abscess on a tooth. Without any medical attention he twisted it back and forth for eight hours until he was able to rip it out himself, his lawyer said. On June 22, 2007 after having been locked up for 22 months, all the charges against Slevin were dismissed by a district court judge. This before and after picture taken by the Sheriff’s Department tells what that time in solitary did to Slevin better than anything I could write. On the left is the day he went in and on the right the day he got out:
Coyte filed a civil rights claim against the county which they refused to settle. The County claimed that Slevin wanted to remain in solitary confinement and refused medical treatment. But testimony during the week-long trial from guards who had worked at the Dona Ana County Detention Center painted a different picture as they told of Slevin being kept in the conditions he described, and detailed the overall poor management of prisoners. Slevin was awarded $22 million by a jury. That amount was appealed, and on Feb. 12 they settled for $15.5 million, which was announced this week. The Doña Ana County Board of Commissioners released a statement Tuesday saying that it “deeply regrets the harm Mr. Slevin suffered during this period.” Yeah, I’m sure that’s what you regret. Slevin may have been the man the State forgot, but odds are they will remember him now for a very long time.