Woman settles solitary confinement lawsuit

February 6, 2014 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A woman who says she was kept in a filthy, isolated New Mexico jail cell for months at a time has reached a $1.6 million settlement with Valencia County, attorneys for both sides confirmed.

The settlement came after an attorney for Jan Green, 51, filed a federal civil rights [auth] lawsuit a year ago alleging Green was held in deplorable conditions on and off for two years and often denied treatment for her mental illness.

The lawsuit says Green was kept in conditions so bad that a sock rotted into an open wound on her foot. Court papers also say Green denied feminine hygiene products for lengthy stretches.

County officials have denied those allegations, and county attorney David Pato said there was no admission of wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

“We take the mental health of our inmates very seriously,” Pato said.

In 2009, Green was booked into the Valencia County Detention Center after being arrested on a domestic violence charge that was later dropped.

After she entered the jail, guards used pepper spray on her when she refused to put on jail clothing, according to the lawsuit.

Green’s attorney Matthew Coyte declined to comment Thursday.

The settlement with Green also stops the Valencia County Detention Center from holding inmates in a certain isolated cell for more than 48 hours.

Pato, however, said it does not call for a revamp of the center’s solitary confinement policies.

Coyte won a $22 million judgment in 2012 on behalf of former Dona Ana County jail inmate Stephen Slevin, who claimed he was held in solitary confinement for two years without a trial and was so neglected that he took out his own tooth.

The verdict was one of the largest federal civil rights settlements in history, but the county later appealed and reached a $15.5 million settlement.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

« »