New Mexico

New Mexico man arrested, drugged, detained for two years; now wins $22 million reward verdict in lawsuit

Saturday, January 28, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: New Mexico, arrest, lawsuit

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(NaturalNews) After spending two years in solitary confinement without ever having been convicted of a crime, 58-year-old Stephen Slevin has finally been awarded a whopping $22 million from a federal jury for his improper treatment by Dona Ana County in New Mexico. The Miami Herald reports that Slevin had originally been arrested for drunk driving back in 2005, but ended up spending most of the following two years alone and neglected in solitary confinement, thanks to someone checking a box on a form that categorized Slevin as "suicidal."

Prison personnel reportedly drugged up Slevin without ever properly verifying that he was either suicidal or clinically depressed, and ignored all of his petitions for help or legal remedy in the matter. So not only was Slevin never allowed to see a mental health professional prior to being forcefully given drugs and held in confinement, but his superiors also ignored his repeated pleas for simple due process or a proper trial.

According to Matt Coyte, a civil rights attorney involved with the case, Slevin ended up falling into a type of "delirium" after about five months of being forced to remain in solitary confinement, upon which he was forced to spend another 20 months living in the same conditions. He even reportedly had to pull his own tooth because nobody in the system would acknowledge his pleas for medical attention.

"[Slevin] was stuck in a six-foot-by-11-foot cell with a concrete bench for a bed," said Coyte. "We had documentary evidence that he didn't get out for anything -- for recreation, a shower -- for months at a time."

The inhumane and abusive treatment that Slevin endured was a direct result of the out-of-control mental health system that prevails in America today. Coyte told MSNBC that it is the prison system's policy to just put prisoners with so-called mental health issues in solitary confinement, and leave them there without remedy.

The only "responses" Slevin ever received during his time in confinement were upped doses of medications, which is how many medical conditions are treated these days -- "just give 'em some more drugs and they'll be fine" is typically how it goes in America today (

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