Man gets $15.5M for 22 months in solitary

March 7, 2013 at 7:56 AM
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LAS CRUCES, N.M., March 7 (UPI) -- A New Mexico jail was ordered to pay $15.5 million to a man kept in solitary confinement for two years for a DWI without medical care or regular showers.

Stephen Slevin, 59, was first awarded $22 million last January for his ordeal at Dona Ana County Jail, though the county appealed and settled on the lower amount Tuesday, Dona Ana County's public information director Jess Williams said.

Slevin was first arrested and incarcerated in 2005 for driving while intoxicated, NBC News reported.

"He was driving through New Mexico and arrested for a DWI, and he allegedly was in a stolen vehicle. Well, it was a car he had borrowed from a friend; a friend had given him a car to drive across the country," his lawyer, Matt Coyte said. "When he gets put in the jail, they think he's suicidal, and they put him in a padded cell for three days, but never give him any treatment."

After three days, guards put Slevin in solitary confinement, though he never faced a judge, Coyte said.

He stayed in confinement for 22 months where a fungus grew on his skin because he was denied regular showers. Slevin was also forced to pull his own tooth because he couldn't see a dentist and his toenails grew so long they curled around the bottom of his toes, NBC News reported.

"His 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," Coyte said.

Slevin now lives in an undisclosed location outside of New Mexico and is battling lung cancer unrelated to his time in prison, NBC News said.

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