If you've ever seen Midnight Express, the horrific (but brilliant) movie based on the real life man who was given a life sentence in a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hashish, you probably know enough not to get in trouble in a foreign country. But something like that could never happen here in America, right? Wrong. What happened to Steven Slevin was almost worse -- because he wasn't even convicted of anything. Slevin was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in New Mexico in 2005. But he was never convicted, never tried, never even saw a judge. Yet he spent almost two nightmarish years in solitary confinement with treatment that devastated his physical and emotional health. Once you read this, you'll never look at our justice system quite the same way again.
After Steven's arrest on suspicion of DUI and driving a stolen car, he was placed in solitary confinement because because officers felt he might be "suicidal."
There, he was essentially forgotten about by the legal system. He was given no health care. His toenails grew so long they curled around his feet. He developed bed sores. A fungus grew on his skin after being denied showers. He lost a ton of weight. His hair grew long and shaggy -- he looks like he just got off a desert island. He descended into madness. And his dental problems grew so severe that he was forced to pull out one of his rotting teeth by himself.
Eventually, after 22 months, Steven was released after all charges against him were dismissed! Not only couldn't anyone prove he was drunk driving, but his lawyer says the car wasn't stolen -- it was a friend's car. Now the poor man has lung cancer and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
At least Steven was just awarded one of the largest civil rights settlements in history. He was awarded $15.5 million, but the county is appealing. Appealing??! Give this man every penny!
Reportedly Steven is going to receive $6 million by the end of the week -- and I'm sure his lawyer will take a great deal of that. I hope the rest isn't taken up by a bunch of leeches. But now Stephen has a shot at having decent medical care and some comfort for the rest of his life, however long that will be.
What do you think about what happened to this man?
Image via NBCNews