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Man forgotten in jail for years after DWI arrest without a trial,he has to hurt himself to attract attention

Antonia 18/08/2021

Jail forgot about him after his arrest for drunken driving.At least he can afford a haircut.This is One of the largest federal civil rights settlements in history involving an inmate.

A man held in solitary confinement for two years and forced to pull his own tooth because he was denied dental care has been awarded $22million for violation of his constitutional rights.

Stephen Slevin, 58, from New Mexico, was given the payout after accusing Dona Ana County jail of essentially forgetting about him after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, not giving him the healthcare he needed and treating him inhumanely.

The settlement is one of the largest federal civil rights awards in history involving an inmate.

Ordeal: Stephen Slevin, pictured near the time of his release, was held in solitary confinement for two years and forced to pull out his own tooth

Outside the federal courthouse in Santa Fe today, Mr Slevin said it was never about the money for him but more about sending a message that prisoners should be treated more humanely.

He still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from what he says was physical and mental mistreatment by corrections officials in Dona Ana County, in the southern part of the state.

He told KOB4.com: 'It was never about the money. We made a statement about what happened to me.

'Prison officials were walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate. Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help.'

The 58-year-old was arrested in August 2005 and charged with driving while intoxicated and receiving a stolen vehicle near Las Cruces.

His lawyer said that, due to his history of mental illness, he was placed into solitary confinement.

Civil rights attorney Matthew Coyte revealed it was here that his client started to deteriorate.

He said: 'They threw him in solitary and then ignored him. He disappeared into delirium, and his mental illness was made worse by being isolated from human contact and a lack of medical care.'

Justice: Stephen Slevin, pictured in 2012, said it was never about the money for him but more about making a statement that it was not acceptable to treat prisoners in this way

While Mr Slevin was in solitary confinement, his toenails grew so long they began to curl around his feet, he developed bedsores, fungus and dental problems and lost a lot of weight, according to the lawsuit.

He was eventually released after 22 months as a pre-trial detainee and the charges against him were dismissed.

It was upon his release that he filed the lawsuit, claiming his rights of due process were violated since he was not given a hearing before being placed in solitary confinement.

The county had recently offered to settle the case for $2million, according to CNN, despite previously denying there was a lack of medical care and that, as government employees, county officials deserved immunity from liability.

Mr Coyte told KOB.com that he hopes Mr Slevin's court victory will send a message throughout the state.

He said: 'I have never been with or seen a braver man who stood up to these guys for what they did to him.

'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.'

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