Thursday, January 26, 2012

Very Third World Behavior

This is one of those news stories that desperately needs more attention.  I don't really want to believe that this could happen in America, but the size of the judgment suggests that this was a lot more than just a minor screwup:

A man who spent two years in solitary confinement after getting arrested for DWI was awarded $22 million for suffering inhumane treatment in New Mexico's Dona Ana County Jail.
Stephen Slevin was arrested in August of 2005 for driving while intoxicated, according to NBC station He said he never got a trial and spent the entire time languishing in solitary, even pulling his own tooth when he was denied dental care.
"'[Prison officials were] walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate," he said. "Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help."
By law, you are entitled to a trial on a criminal charge within 90 days of arrest.  A defendant may delay that trial (within reason), but the government may not.  To be held for two years without trial?  I would like to think that the sheriff responsible for this is going to prison.

A bit more here at CNN.  It appears that Slevin has a history of mental illness, and the sheriff's department held him in solitary because of that.  However: there seems to have been no hearing to justify holding him--and worse, he was actually transferred to a state facility for psychiatric evaluation, before being returned to the county jail.  If he was being held for trial, the county broke the law.  If he was being held because they were concerned about his mental health, he did not belong in a jail, but a mental hospital, where he at least would have had a chance at receiving proper medical care--unlike what happened in the jail.

1 comment:

  1. Before and after photos at this other NBC story.