- (Photo: Dona Ana County Police/File)
A prisoner has received $15.5 million after being "neglected" by being placed in solitary confinement for 22 months in a New Mexico jail.
After spending almost two years in solitary confinement, the prisoner, Stephen Slevin, is said to have suffered a sharp deterioration in mental health, and he was observed to have had fungus growing on his skin.
Reports have further described the torturous conditions the prisoner was forced to endure, documenting that he was refused access to a dentist and so was forced to pull out his own tooth after it caused him unbearable pain.
Legal action against Dona Ana County has since seen authorities reach a settlement with the prisoner for $15.5 million.
Initially a horrified jury, stunned by what Slevin had to endure, awarded him $22 million. However, Dona Ana County appealed that decision, and on appeal the amount was reduced significantly to the $15.5 million.
Slevin's attorney, Matt Coyte, said his client's "mental health has been severely compromised from the time he was in that facility. That continues to be the same. No amount of money will bring back what they took away from him. But it's nice to be able to get him some money so he can improve where he is in life and move on," according to NBC News.
It court it was claimed that over the course of Slevin's 22 months in solitary confinement he developed large amounts of bedsores, and lost 50 pounds in weight.
Slevin was arrested in 2005 on suspicion of driving under the influence and stealing a motor vehicle. He claimed that he borrowed the car from a friend. At the time of his arrest he suffered from depression.
In a bizarre twist Slevin was never actually brought before a judge, and was also never officially convicted of the crime. As he was left in jail, he sent out letters begging for someone to send help, saying he was suffering from severe depression.
Slevin has told KOB4-TV: "Why they did what they did, I'll never know. Walking by me, watching me deteriorate day after day after day, and they did nothing at all to get me help."
Since his release Slevin was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, and he also suffers from post traumatic stress disorder due to his time in jail.
Authorities have tried to reassure the public by saying they are making efforts to improve the way they treat prisoners with mental illness.
Here is a video news report into the incident after Stephen Slevin was originally awarded $22 million: