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New Mexico Man Convicted of DWI Not Given Proper Chance at Rehab

When 57-year old Steven Slevin was jailed for two years, he was never given a chance to attend a rehabilitation facility to conquer his alcoholism. In fact, he was not given a chance for many basic human rights.

Slevin was arrested in 2005 for stealing a car and driving while under the influence. Because he was depressed and potentially suicidal, he was tossed into a padded cell for three days and then sent to solitary confinement. He was never offered treatment for his mental health issues.

According to New Mexico’s Dona Ana County jail’s procedures, any inmate who is suffering from mental health problems is immediately sentenced to solitary confinement.

A doctor was assigned to Slevin at the beginning of his solitary sentence, and Slevin received medication without proper treatment. The doctor did not even see Slevin before dispensing the prescription drugs. When Doctor Zemek left the jail staff a few months later, Slevin’s care was assigned to a registered nurse, who continued to prescribe and increase the dosage of the “complicated psychotropic medications.”

Without proper treatment, Slevin’s health and mental well-being deteriorated over the two year stay. He was denied basic necessities, and sometimes his one hour of allotted time outside of the cell was not granted. Even basics like sanitary care were denied: upon release, his fingernails curled; his body weight had decreased to one-third of his original weight; and he had bed sores and a fungal infection.

Of course, without being granted basic care, it may be obvious that Slevin was also denied access to an alcohol rehabilitation facility. Had he been provided proper care and access to an alcohol rehabilitation facility like the nearby Vista Taos Renwal Center of New Mexico, Slevin may have become rehabilitated while in jail. Instead, he now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. It may be also safe to say his alcoholism, while suppressed during his jail stay, will return sometime in the future.

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COVID-19 update: The health and safety of our clients at Vista Taos Renewal Center continues to be our highest priority. Due to the national rise in cases of COVID-19, all potential clients entering the Vista Taos program shall be tested for the virus and must receive their results prior to admission. Vista Taos continues to work closely with the New Mexico Department of Health, adhering to the highest standards of care for our clients, and will provide subsequent testing after admission as needed. For assistance in finding the most efficient testing sites, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Jeremy Lihte, at (575) 425-1913
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