Guards Mistake Dentures for Prison Contraband
Jails and prisons can be deadly for the prisoners, as well as the guards who work there. These are dangerous locations, and the guards are often wary and on edge. However, this does not give them the right to harm inmates and put their lives in jeopardy. Yet, that was just what happened at a small New Mexico jail about half an hour from Albuquerque.
What Happened at the Detention Center?
Marvin Silva was brought to the Valencia County Adult Detention Center in Los Lunas. One of the employees took Silva to a holding cell, which had no security cameras. He was ordered to undress, which is part of the procedure to be brought into the jail. The guards want to make sure that nothing is being brought into the facility that could pose a danger or that would otherwise be considered contraband.
Silva was allowed to keep his mask on and followed the guard’s orders to remove his other clothing. However, Silva wears dentures that do not fit properly. When they came loose, he tried to pop them back in using his tongue.
The guard asked Silva what he was doing and accused the inmate of trying to swallow something. When Silva tried to remove the mask and show the guard the issue with the dentures, the guard grabbed and squeezed Silva’s cheeks so hard that the metal in the dentures pierced his cheek.
The inmate claims that when the guard was unable to find any contraband, the guard slammed his head into the wall and then started the beating. Around that point, more guards came into the cell and beat Silva, as well. It’s also alleged that the guards pepper-sprayed Silva’s face, kicked and punched him, and beat his head into the wall and bench. Silva was naked during the assault.
No contraband was ever found on Silva.
After the beating, medical personnel checked him out as part of the intake process. They said that he was fine and that they would not provide any additional medical care. They refused to take him to the hospital even though he was distressed and requested to go. The complaint that was filed also said that one of the people on the medical team wrote on the medical chart that Silva did not show any signs of distress.
Silva had been arrested for a minor infraction. He was released the same day, but he had no way home. He walked for five miles before he was able to find someone to take him home. When he arrived home, he called 911 and was brought to Lovelace Hospital.
However, the injuries were so serious that he couldn’t be taken care of at Lovelace. He was then taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where he could be treated. He was treated for fractured ribs, a collapsed lung, spleen injuries, and a host of other injuries to the neck, head, and abdomen.
Silva’s attorney and the New Mexico Prison and Jail Project say that his 14th Amendment rights were violated, which is one of the grounds of the lawsuit. Silva is also suing for medical malpractice since the medical professionals who saw him in the jail would not provide proper medical care. He’s suing for damages.
Steven Allen, the director of the New Mexico Prison and Jail Project says that cases like this are not isolated. There are stories coming from prisoners regularly that talk about the types of abuse and force that are used on them while they are in the system.