Target: Todd Garrison, Sheriff of Dona Ana County
Goal: Punish those responsible for sending man to jail for two years without a trial
Stephen Slevin spent 22 months in solitary confinement in the county jail after he was pulled over for possible drunk driving. He was arrested in August 2005 and the police then essentially forgot about him. He was never presented to a judge and never had a trial. He was separated from other inmates and simply forgotten because for almost two years until June 2007. Sign the petition to demand the county punish those responsible for Slevin’s abuse.
The right of habeas corpus, to be produced before a judge and not locked away without trial is enshrined in the US Constitution. By never producing Slevin in court Dona Ana County and the Sheriff’s Department violated his constitutional rights. Slevin was isolated from the other prisoners and kept in solitary because he had a history of mental illness. When he went to jail he was physically healthy, but by the time he got out he was only 133 pounds, covered in bedsores, filthy and had a long beard. Not only was he denied human contact but also medical care. At one point he had to pull his own rotting tooth. He now suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of his experience. According to his lawyer, “He disappeared into delirium, and his mental illness was made worse by being isolated from human contact and a lack of medical care.”
The county jail claims it is taking steps to reform and prevent this from happening again by increasing psychological services. However, despite this promise charges were not brought against any involved, nor did anyone lose his or her job. Sign the petition to demand the county punish those responsible for Slevin’s terrible ordeal.
Dear Sheriff Garrison,
I am a human rights activist writing to demand that you bring charges against and terminate those responsible for Stephen Slevin’s ordeal in your county jail. The fact that he was held in solitary confinement for such a long period and never produced before a judge is something that seems more characteristic of Iran or North Korea than the United States. His constitutional right to habeas corpus was grievously violated. Even worse was the fact that he was denied medical care; he was forced to pull out a rotting tooth by himself.
While he has received a settlement, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic disorder and pancreatic cancer following his release from jail. It is cold comfort for him to have money following his monstrous experience. You have a duty to ensure this never happens again, not just by improving psychological services but also by punishing and firing those responsible for his treatment. The people who ‘forgot’ about him, the people who denied him care and the people who dismissed his cries for help should all have charges brought against them.
I hope you take my thoughts under consideration.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Talk Left