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Stephen Slevin: $15.5 million awarded in solitary confinement case

Stephen Slevin was awarded $15.5 million — reduced on appeal from the original $22 million verdict — after spending two years in solitary confinement without a trial.


This composite shows Stephen Slevin before and after he spent almost two years in solitary confinement in a county jail in New Mexico.

Dona Ana County Sheriff's Department / AP

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A $15.5 million settlement has been reached to end the legal battle over the case of a U.S. man who was held in solitary confinement for two years without a trial and was so neglected that he took out his own tooth.

Stephen R. Slevin spent 22 months in a New Mexico county jail after being arrested for drunken driving but was never convicted, according to his lawsuit.

Attorney Matthew Coyte said his client ended up in solitary confinement after someone noted he was suicidal. He was so neglected, Coyte said, he was left in his cell for months at a time, had untreated dental problems and toenails that grew so long they curled under his feet.


The settlement announced Thursday stems from mediation ordered by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Dona Ana County was appealing a lower court decision that upheld a $22 million judgment that was awarded last year to former inmate Stephen R. Slevin.

That verdict was one of the largest federal civil rights settlements in history.


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