Claims of abuse in solitary confinement emerge for NM county jail

Created: 07/08/2014 8:39 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Another claim of abuse in solitary confinement emerges out of a New Mexico county jail. This time it’s in the Sierra County Detention Center, in the heart of Truth or Consequences. The lawsuit claims the inmate lost 22 pounds in 18 days as a result of the conditions.

In 2012, Michael Faziani hit a pole at this T-or-C McDonalds in a rental car. He filed a false police report and he went to jail for it.

“He tried to make it look like someone dinged him in a parking lot,” said attorney Matt Coyte.

The lawsuit says Faziani is bi-polar, so the Sierra County jail staff pushed him into solitary confinement right away so that they didn't have to deal with his mental illness.

"In that period of time, his mental health deteriorated so dramatically,” said Coyte.

The lawsuit states his "cell became foul smelling and dirty" his "cell had become so squalid, another inmate was ordered to clean it for him." and instead of treating his bi-polar disorder, the suit claims jail staff over medicated him by giving him narcotics like oxycodone and hydrocodone four times a day.

During that time he became dehydrated and lost 22 pounds in 18 days.

Jail administrators in Sierra County responded and they acknowledge the facility had problems back in 2012. Which is why management of the jail switched over to the Sheriff's Office earlier this year and reform is underway.

“Training, training, training, training!  It’s always an issue and an issue we immediately identified,” said Lt. Glenn Hamilton.

Lt. Glenn Hamilton says there are new rules and policies regarding solitary confinement and admits the mistakes of the past may hurt the jail's future.

“I can tell you any lawsuit with any small agency it's going to hurt us there.  If we have to pay out a lawsuit, that’s less money for operating costs down the road,” said Hamilton. 

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