Man left in solitary confinement for 2 years gets $15.5 million
By Fox News
A New Mexico county has reached a $15.5 million settlement in the legal case of a man who was held in solitary confinement for two years without a trial.
The settlement stems from mediation ordered by a federal appeals court. The county of Dona Ana was appealing a lower court decision awarding former inmate Stephen R. Slevin $22 million.
Slevin spent 22 months in jail between August 2005 and June 2007 after being arrested for drunken driving but was never convicted, his lawsuit stated.
Attorney Matthew Coyte said his client ended up in solitary confinement after someone noted he was suicidal. He was so neglected, Coyte said, he was left in his cell for months, had untreated dental problems and toenails that grew so long they curled under his feet.
The county defended its operation of the jail after the initial $22 million judgment in January 2012. It argued Slevin was offered a chance to join the general jail population, but he declined, and the only option was to place him in one of the jail's segregation cells.
"This settlement, although very large, does not give back to Mr. Slevin what was taken from him, but if it prevents others from enduring the pain and suffering he was subjected to, then the fight has been worthwhile," Coyte said. "I only hope they follow through on their promise to do better."