DONA ANA COUNTY, NEW MEXICO – A man who spent two years in solitary confinement after getting arrested for DWI was awarded $22 million for suffering inhumane treatment in New Mexico’s Dona Ana County Jail.
Stephen Slevin was arrested in August of 2005 for driving while intoxicated, according to NBC station KOB.com. He said he never got a trial and spent the entire time languishing in solitary, even pulling his own tooth when he was denied dental care.
“‘[Prison officials were] walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate,” he said. “Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help.”
Slevin said he made countless requests to see a doctor to get medication for his depression, but wasn’t allowed to see one until only a few weeks before his release. He also never got to see a judge.
The $22 million settlement, awarded by a federal jury on Tuesday, is one of the largest prisoner civil rights settlements in U.S. history, according to KOB.com.
“I wanted people to know that there are people at The Dona Ana County Jail that are doing things like this to people and getting away with it,” Slevin, who now suffers from PTSD and believes he will have to take medication for life as a result, said. “Why they did what they did, I have no idea.”
Neither the county nor Slevin’s attorney returned phone calls from msnbc.com, but Slevin’s attorney, Matt Coyte, told KOB.com, “I have never been with or seen a braver man who stood up to these guys for what they did to him … [This case] It affects everybody and it’s not good for this country. It’s not good for Mr. Slevin for sure and it’s not good for this country. It has to stop.”