A man is thrown into solitary confinement for two years, denied medical treatment and is forced to pull his own tooth as a result of a DUI accusation. You may think this report is from a third world dictatorship, but lo and behold, this happened to a man in the state of New Mexico.
A New Mexico man who said he was forced to pull his own tooth while in solitary confinement because he was denied access to a dentist has been awarded $22 million due to inhumane treatment by New Mexico’s Dona Ana County Jail.
Stephen Slevin was arrested in August of 2005 for driving while intoxicated, then thrown in jail for two years. He was in solitary at Dona Ana County Jail for his entire sentence and basically forgotten about and never given a trial, he told NBC station KOB.com Tuesday night.
“[Jail guards were] walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate,” Slevin said. “Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help.”
Slevin’s medical problems extended beyond his dental issues, he said. His toenails started curling around his foot because they were so long, he told KOB.com. And his countless requests to see a doctor for depression medication were ignored, he said.
When I read this news report, I was shocked and disgusted that in this day and age such persecution can go unnoticed for so long. This man was denied basic human rights for two years and no one seemed to care. The amount he has been awarded will come out of the state coffers- from the taxpayers while the clerks, the prosecutors, the prison warden and other administrators will remain unaffected, never to be penalized for this heinous crime. These barbaric cases of torture are happening in prisons all across the country and will continue to happen (perhaps at a smaller scale) because of the basic lack of oversight that allows this to happen in the first place. Lawmakers really don’t care because prisoners’ rights because it is not really a popular topic. Injustice prevails because we allow it to.
If you open your eyes to the injustices that are happening out there, it will put the work of criminal defense attorneys into perspective. We are here to fight for the rights of the citizen accused- rights that no one else seems to care about. That’s sad.