Man who spent two years in solitary confinement without trial gets $15.5 million

By Daniel S Levine,

A man who spent two years in solitary confinement following a DWI charge without trial has been awarded $15.5 million.

Stephen Slevin, 58, was arrested in New Mexico in 2005 for driving while intoxicated and driving a stolen car, reports The Los Angeles Times. He was not released from solitary confinement until 2007.

While in solitary, his attorney, Matt Coyte, said that his health deteriorated and he was even forced to pull out his own tooth. After a year and a half, he weighed 133 pounds, had long hair and a messy, white beard. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he is “almost back to being a normal human being” after two weeks, Coyte said. But for some unknown reason, in May 2007, he was sent back to solitary for another month before finally being released.

Prosecutors didn’t end up even charging him, finding him incompetent to go to trial, notes Coyte.

“He was a pretrial detainee the entire time,” his attorney told the LA Times. “He was never convicted.”

According to NBC News, Slevin was first in the news in January 2012, when a federal jury awarded him $22 million for the ordeal. Dona Ana County was appealing the ruling, but finally agreed to a $15.5 million settlement this week.

“The Board of County Commissioners deeply regrets the harm Mr. Slevin suffered during this period,” the county said Thursday, reports CNN. “Over the past seven years, Dona Ana County has made significant improvements to detention center staffing, training, facilities and procedures. Dona Ana County is committed to ensuring consistent and appropriate treatment of every detainee in its care.”

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