We go to Raw Story for this hellacious tale (my emphasis):
In August of 2005, Stephen Slevin was arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). He spent most of the next two years in the Dona Ana County Detention Center without his case ever going before a judge.Coyne commented: "Their policy is to then just put [detainees with mental health issues] in solitary. He disappeared into delirium...".
Slevin was rarely allowed to go outside, fungus grew underneath his skin and his toenails curled around his foot because they were so long. At one point, he even had to pull his own tooth.
“He can’t really remember any of it,” Dart Society Reports’ Susan Greene, who interviewed Slevin, told Raw Story. “It’s all sort of lost in his mind, which is a typical trauma response, a pretty extreme though not unheard of trauma response.”
Attorney Matt Coyte explained to MSNBC.com that police had mistakenly believed that Slevin had stolen the car he was driving when police pulled him over and arrested him for a DWI. Slevin informed authorities that he had been depressed, but instead of getting mental help, he found himself on suicide watch in a padded cell. Three days later, he was transferred to solitary confinement.
It's a horrifying story. Apparently, at some point he snapped alert. Once released, he sued, winning a $22 million award just last week. It's the award that makes this news, but the underlying thought is stunning.
How do you go from DWI to two years in solitary without ever seeing a judge? I knew we were a prosecutorial, punishing lot. But are we that prosecutorial, that mindlessly punishing? Guess so.
I hope it just a species thing, and not something in the American water supply.
One last quote. In an interview, Slevin said this:
“Prison officials were walking by me every day, watching me deteriorate. ... Day after day after day, they did nothing, nothing at all, to get me any help.”Lord help him. As the article makes clear, he'll have PTSD for the rest of his life. As for the county, they're offering media tours of the facility — apparently there's nothing a PR campaign can't totally cure.
Update: I haven't chased it down, but note this comment. Worth looking into.