Dona Ana County in New Mexico has agreed to pay Stephen Slevin, 59, $15.5 million after it kept Slevin in solitary confinement for 22 months without a trial for a DUI arrest. The horrific case was made worse by years of litigation by the county, which refused to pay a court verdict that was originally $22 million. One of the most disturbing facts of this case however is that not a single county employee was fired over his grotesque treatment, which included the denial of necessary medical attention.
Slevin was arrested for DUI in August of 2005. He was leaving New Mexico and driving across the country. He had been depressed and his friend loaned him the car. He ended up being put in a padded cell because he was viewed as suicidal. However, after three days for no known reason, he was transferred to solitary confinement where he languished from 2005 to 2007. While there he was denied medical attention and had to pull his own tooth for lack of a dentist. Fungus covered parts of his skin because he was denied showers. He was not allowed out many days for an hour as required for people in solitary confinement. His mental state deteriorated rapidly.
When he was released he was dying from cancer. However, he has beaten predictions of his death despite the county prolonging the litigation and fighting every effort for relief in the courts. Even after a jury awarded him $22 million, the county continued litigation. It was only after a court mediation that it agreed to pay him $15.5 million — a record settlement.
What is truly astonishing is that, despite the horrific and inhumane treatment of this man, not a single county employee will be fired. Indeed, there does not appear to be any backlash for the prison officials and attorneys that contributed to this nightmare in Dona Ana County.