This is the official website for
Tommy Silverstein: 14634 - 116
just to draw your attention to 2 comments by Tommy off our old guestbook, dated Aug 2010 & Jan 2011: above.
16th March 2013: Heads up on Tommy's current situation:
The district court granted in part and denied in part the BOP's motion to dismiss his lawsuit in March 2010. His due process claim and eighth amendment claim against the BOP were allowed to go forward at that point.
In September 2011, the district court (Judge Brimmer) granted the BOP's motion for summary judgment, dismissing all of Tommy's claims.
We filed a motion for reconsideration of that decision as well as a couple of other post-judgment motions. Judge Brimmer denied all of those in September 2012.
We filed the notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in November 2012.
We filed Tommy's opening brief in the appeal in February 2013. The BOP will file a response brief later this month, and we will file a reply brief two weeks later. We don't have a date yet for the oral argument on the appeal.
The suit was first filed on Wed., Nov. 2007 according to this article and then this.
(Wed. Mar. 24,, 2010)
Thomas Silverstein: Judge rules conditions at supermax not "extreme"
To all my friends and supporters thank's for hanging in there with me all these years!
Its truly appreciated. Please take care always & Thanks again for caring!
Your Pal Tommy.
Supporters can contact me with messages and enquiries at my email address. < on the side-bar.
Tommy has asked me to imform all our friends and supporters to avoid any solicitation for funds put out on various websites & blogs by Roxanne Greschner, she is is trying to illicit funds using Tommy's name!
THIS IS A LIE
The only way we Fed Prisoners can recieve funds is if its sent to the following address.
Federal Bureau of Prisons,
insert prisoner name
insert prisoner reg number
P.O. Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa, 50947-0001
We have been waiting for the result of a motion filed 12 months ago to reconcider the Courts decission regarding the suit served on the BOP, this is what we have just heard.
We filed a motion for reconsideration in the case about nine months ago. The judge (who is the same judge who dismissed the case on summary judgment) denied that motion. Now the appellate process will start.
3 websites to peruse:
An Introduction from Tommy:
To our friends and supporters, long time no hear I know. I’ve missed you all but my thoughts remain with you and why I’d like to share the latest with you.
First a law suit was recently filed on behalf of the mentally ill here in ADX, who are not supposed to be here by law and by BOP’s own policy, so you’ll read how this administration goes out of its way to act like they (they the mentally ill) don’t exist, it’s a real page turner like a horror story!
Ever since I’ve been here I’ve complained and wrote on our guest-book about being housed with rats (informers) and the mentally ill, well this litigation validates what I’ve been saying all along and explains how they (admin) use em as weapons to drive us regular guys crazy by placing guys they (admin) don’t like next to someone who yells and bangs etc, constantly. For my first couple 3 years here they kept me sandwiched between extremely ill guys who made my life a living hell )-:
It’ll also give you a peek at the type of prison regime youre subjected to at ADX and how heartless they are to allow it, cover it up when questioned and plain just don’t care about the horror they inflict upon us! I’ve not said much before for fear it would it wouldn’t get out, plus we’re prohibited from 1) acting as a reporter and 2) mentioning other prisoners, and after you read it you’ll see why they don’t want this getting out, but now that its public record, they can no longer hide what they do to us here! This is a Govt Institution mind you...
You’re Tax Dollars serve to fuel this horror and terror. You’ll read where men are driven so mad they literally chew off their own fingers, pluck out their eye balls etc, All this while the sadistic Architects not only turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering that their nightmarish isolation cause, they lie by denying it exist and absolutely refuse to remedy it!
This is where they sent me after 25 years Solitary Confinement, this is the hell I wake up to daily and lie awake at night listening to the insanity of men who scream bloody murder from the pain they suffer, so they bang their heads to their cell wall bars and mutilate themselves beyond recognition! Etc etc. ADX is the Devils play-pen. No one escapes its psychological wrath!
The next transcript is from the recent Congressional Subcommittee on Solitary Confinement. My Attorney submitted a written statement. Ms Rovner and one of the experts in my case went to Washington D C. and attended the hearing and my expert Dr Haney, was able to testify and submit a written statement. The BOP Director testified and lied throughout. One shining example of his, he was asked how long do we stay in ADX, before leaving and he said 223 days. I’ve been here since 2005 and many have been here since it opened in 1994-5! The last is what my attorney kindly submitted and wrote.
Hopefully this all gives you a much better idea what my existence is like in this Govt. Run insane nut-house.
Please take care, till next time
You’re Pal Tommy
clicking on the link below takes you to a list of issues:
the above links take you to reports and submissions.
2nd August 12:
This is what Tommy said in this letter to Friends Service Committee sometime between 1983 and 1985.
"True I killed a guard, but no one has ever bothered to ask why. They only slammed me in my own prison, go out of their way to make it as tough as possible in the name of security and justice and now what? I never thought of killing anything before I came to prison or H-Unit (Control Unit at Marion). Although I was sent to H-Unit behind a murder in Leavenworth, it has been reversed because the “rat” who said it was me later confessed he lied to get a transfer to a sweeter joint so he could escape, which he succeeded in doing. So I entered H-Unit with a life sentence I didn’t deserve and I am mad about it. It has been a nightmare ever since.
I’d like to see a better way for all, because murder isn’t pretty in any language or moral sense. I am also an example of how prisons avoid dealing with their own backyards. Not only hasn’t anyone ever bothered to rap with me, they don’t want to deal with it so they have locked me up indefinitely. They have turned Marion into a concentration camp, hurting innocent men and their families with their so-called “get tough” policies. Which is what got me where I am today. Not all dogs put their tail between their legs when their masters beat them constantly. Some eventually bite back. Men, especially innocent men going through hell for no reason than being subjected to others overpowering vindictiveness and paranoia will also bite back. So how many more bodies will fall and how many more individual “special housing units” like mine, before they face up to the jobs they get paid well for? More bars and guards are hardly the answer, because I am a living example what the cage and that way of thinking causes."
This is an issue that has arisen in ADX, regarding Art-work submitted by prisoners:
18th June 2012:
The folowing link is Tommy's Lawyers address to Senate Commitee regarding Solitary Confinement:
The United States holds tens of thousands of people in long-term solitary confinement, but the case of Tommy Silverstein is perhaps the most extreme. He has been kept in isolation for the last 27 years, more than anyone else in the federal prison system. Laura Rovner, a law professor at Denver University, represents Silverstein, 60, [...]
Tommy Silverstein reflects on the physical and psychological effects of 28 years in solitary and on his own development as a self-taught artists and practicioner of yoga and Buddhist meditation. He reiterates his plea to be allowed into the BOP’s “Step-Down program” toward less isolated confinement. The complete declaration, which runs to 64 pages, can be read here.
Update: A declaration submitted as an exhibit in the case, by Dr. Craig Haney, one of the nation’s leading experts on the effects of prolonged solitary confinement, can be read here.Im am an retired Army Ranger Vet and me and my Vet friends our completely ashamed of the way our Country is managed to put its own people away in a box and forget about them. Mr. Silverstein has been let down by a prison system that is corrupt to its core. I've had friends and relatives who have spent time in jail or prison and its all the same. The guard act "God like" and bet inmate on inmate. Mr. Silverstien deserves his "general population freedom. I am fully aware of his conduct in prison and fully believe it was brought on by the guards without an ounce of doubt. Signed, Honorable Vet without freedom
19th June 12:
20th june 12:
Go to informal resolution (1) & (2).
Solitary Confinement: what is it.
A short video explaining Solitary Confinement
Painting by Tommy silverstein:
A brief heads-up to new visitors to this site:
Thomas Edward Silverstein was born in
On page 143 of Pete Earley’s book, The Hot House, Silverstein’s mother is described as:
His mother hit the kids with anything she could get her hands on, Silverstein said. Once, after he was beaten up by another boy, she told Silverstein that if he didn't stand up for himself the next time, she would take a belt to him.
So Silverstein began to fight back. And at the age of 15 this new attitude got him into a fist fight with a police officer and he was sent to the California Youth Authority. There his mother’s lessons were only reinforced.
Toms experience in the CYA is summed up by him on Page 144 of The Hot House:
“Anyone not willing to fight was abused.”
In 1971 a nineteen year old Silverstein entered San Quentin in the middle of what Edward Bunker called a “War Behind Walls” in his 1972 Harpers Magazine article.
Here are two excerpts:
“...they stabbed every white on the tier, all of whom wore white jumpsuits, for they had just gotten off bus and had no idea they would be attacked for being white. One died, and one vaulted the railing to avoid the stabbing blades broke both his angles on the concrete below….
Men without friends, those trying to quietly serve a term and get out, were in the worst predicament. They had no allies. Warriors stayed together, knew many of their opposition, suspected others from hairstyle, mannerism, and association.”
On page 144 Earley writes about this period of time in Silverstein’s life:
“It was there, the bureau noted, that he first began associating with members of the Aryan Brotherhood. “
Released four years later he is rearrested shortly thereafter for armed robbery along with his two crime partners, his cousin and his own father.
"I was 23 when I was sentenced to 15 years for that robbery," Silverstein wrote in his declaration. "My share of the proceeds was a few hundred dollars. My life on the outside was over forever."
Silverstein was sent to the U.S. Penitentiary in
For his own safety, Silverstein felt he had to align with a group.
According to “prosecutors”, he chose the Aryan Brotherhood.
In his declaration, Silverstein denies committing two of the four murders attributed to him.
In reference to the first of the four murders, the one in
“On appeal a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit said it was appalled by the quagmire of conflicting testimony and recanted statements…The judges ordered federal prosecutors to either dismiss the murder charge against Silverstein or conduct a new trail.”
There was no retrial.
The environment at the Federal prison at Marion Illinois, when Silverstein arrived there is described below:
“Between January 1980 and October 1983, there were more serious disturbances at
During a separate trial, for the murder of an inmate by the name of Chappelle, while both men were at
When called to the stand to testify Norman Matthews… was asked whether he could remember
Did the judge improperly exclude this testimony?The third murder is not denied by Silverstein but was committed only after Smith had failed in two documented attempts to kill him.(Smith had been a close friend of Chappelle’s and the leader of their prison gang. “Cadillac” Smith had been moved to a cell next to Silverstein from another institution after Chappelle's death in what appears to be a set up by the authorities involved.)
Excerpts from Pete Early’s, book “Hot House”.
“I tried to tell Cadillac that I didn’t kill Chappelle, but he didn’t believe me and bragged that he was going to kill me,”
Silverstein recalled. “Everyone knew what was going on and no one did anything to keep us apart. The guards wanted one of us to kill the other.”
Enter guard Clutts the fourth victim.
Page 233 The Hot House:
“To this day, Silverstein claims that Clutts set out to break him by harassing him in a dozen petty ways that most guards learn early in their careers.”
Officer Clutts also knew there were possible consequences of this harassment for he had learned this lesson the hard way early into his career in an event that foretold his own demise.
The murder of Jarvis was committed by James K. Marshall also a convicted bank robber with a 25 year sentence. The motive, Officer Jarvis had confiscated his candy, fruit and magazines when he was placed
In an audio recording of an interview conducted by Earley, Silverstein explains his own motive in murdering Clutts:
Silverstein: I think he was just selling me wolf tickets. But he didn't know I was taking him serious.
AS MANY KILLINGS THAT I HAVE SEEN WHEN SOMEONE SAYS HE IS GOING TO KILL YOU, YOU CAN’T SIT BACK AND SAY AWE IT AIN’T NOTHING AND DO NOTHING.
When somebody has gone that far especially when you’re telling him you don't want no trouble why don't you get off my case.
You know, I PLEADED WITH THAT GUY…
Silverstein said he was living "in constant fear of reprisals" when on
This is where the similarities between the two cases end.
On March 29, 1972 Marshall was transferred to Oregon Department of Corrections and was later paroled from his federal sentence in 1982.
However Silverstein’s life sentence came with a “no human contact” order attached to it and with no achievable release date therefore he will die in prison.
In his recent apology to the world Silverstein wrote:
"Even writing this declaration, I feel my words of regret are inadequate to explain the remorse I feel. There is no justification for what I did.”
But there is logic behind his actions, even if it is only understandable by other inmates that have also been trapped like tethered animals in a slaughterhouse
All the Art-work done by Tommy on this site, and all the photo's of him are Copyright ©
©copyright and reproduction rights of all items viewed or sold are reserved by the Hosts of www.tommysilverstein.bravehost.com & our sister site; tommysilverstein.blogspot.com/
To Activists and Inmates alike, Tom still is Synonymous with Isolation:
America’s Most Isolated
Federal Prisoner Describes
10,220 Days in Extreme
Thomas Silverstein, who has been described as America’s “most isolated man,” has been held in an extreme form of solitary confinement under a “no human contact” order for 28 years. Originally imprisoned for armed robbery at the age of 19, Silverstein is serving life without parole for killing two fellow inmates (whom he says were threatening his life) and a prison guard, and has been buried in the depths of the federal prison system since 1983.
In his current lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Silverstein contends that his years of utter isolation in a small concrete cell violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, as well as its guarantee of due process. (The lawsuit, brought by the University of Denver’s Civil Right Clinic, is described in detail in our article “Fortresses of Solitude.”)
In support of that lawsuit, Tommy Silverstein, now 59, has written a lengthy declaration, the purpose of which “is primarily to describe my experience during this lengthy period of solitary confinement: the nature and impact of the harsh conditions I have endured in spite of a spotless conduct record for over 22 years, and my lack of knowledge about what, if anything, I can do to lessen my isolation.” After apologizing “for the actions that brought me here in the first place,” particularly the murder of corrections officer Merle Clutts, Silverstein contends that he has “worked hard to become a different man.” He continues, “I understand that I deserve to be punished for my actions, and I do not expect ever to be released from prison…I just want to serve out the remainder of my time peacefully with other mature guys doing their time.”
The bulk of the declaration is a detailed account of Silverstein’s experiences and surrounding in a series of what constitute the most secure and isolated housing in the federal prison system: in the notorious Control Unit at Marion, the supermax prototype; at USP Atlanta in a windowless underground “side pocket” cell that measured 6 x 7 feet (“almost exactly the size of a standard king mattress,”); at Leavenworth in an isolated basement cell dubbed the “Silverstein Suite”; on “Range 13″ at ADX Florence, where the only other prisoner was Ramzi Yusef; and finally in ADX’s D-Unit, where he can hear the sounds of other prisoners living in neighboring cells, though he still never sees them.
The following is from Tommy Silverstein’s description of his life at USP Atlanta:
The cell was so small that I could stand in one place and touch both walls simultaneously. The ceiling was so low that I could reach up and touch the hot light fixture.
My bed took up the length of the cell, and there was no other furniture at all…The walls were solid steel and painted all white.
I was permitted to wear underwear, but I was given no other clothing.
Shortly after I arrived, the prison staff began construction on the side pocket cell, adding more bars and other security measures to the cell while I was within it. In order not to be burned by sparks and embers while they welded more iron bars across the cell, I had to lie on my bed and cover myself with a sheet.
It is hard to describe the horror I experienced during this construction process. As they built new walls around me it felt like I was being buried alive. It was terrifying.
During my first year in the side pocket cell I was completely isolated from the outside world and had no way to occupy my time. I was not allowed to have any social visits, telephone privileges, or reading materials except a bible. I was not allowed to have a television, radio, or tape player. I could speak to no one and their was virtually nothing on which to focus my attention.
I was not only isolated, but also disoriented in the side pocket. This was exacerbated by the fact that I wasn’t allowed to have a wristwatch or clock. In addition, the bright, artificial lights remained on in the cell constantly, increasing my disorientation and making it difficult to sleep. Not only were they constantly illuminated, but those lights buzzed incessantly. The buzzing noise was maddening, as there often were no other sounds at all. This may sound like a small thing, but it was my entire world.
Due to the unchanging bright artificial lights and not having a wristwatch or clock, I couldn’t tell if it was day or night. Frequently, I would fall asleep and when I woke up I would not know if I had slept for five minutes or five hours, and would have no idea of what day or time of day it was.
I tried to measure the passing of days by counting food trays. Without being able to keep track of time, though, sometimes I thought the officers had left me and were never coming back. I thought they were gone for days, and I was going to starve. It’s likely they were only gone for a few hours, but I had no way to know.
I was so disoriented in Atlanta that I felt like I was in an episode of the twilight zone. I now know that I was housed there for about four years, but I would have believed it was a decade if that is what I was told. It seemed eternal and endless and immeasurable…
There was no air conditioning or heating in the side pocket cells. During the summer, the heat was unbearable. I would pour water on the ground and lay naked on the floor in an attempt to cool myself…
The only time I was let out of my cell was for outdoor recreation. I was allowed one hour a week of outdoor recreation. I could not see any other inmates or any of the surrounding landscape during outdoor recreation. There was no exercise equipment and nothing to do…
My vision deteriorated in the side pocket, I think due to the constant bright lights, or possibly also because of other aspects of this harsh environment. Everything began to appear blurry and I became sensitive to light, which burned my eyes and gave me headaches.
Nearly all of the time, the officers refused to speak to me. Despite this, I heard people who I believed to be officers whispering into my vents, telling me they hated me and calling me names. To this day, I am not sure if the officers were doing this to me, or if I was starting to lose it and these were hallucinations.
In the side pocket cell, I lost some ability to distinguished what was real. I dreamt I was in prison. When I woke up, I was not sure which was reality and which was a dream.
Tommy Silverstein reflects on the physical and psychological effects of 28 years in solitary and on his own development as a self-taught artists and practicioner of yoga and Buddhist meditation. He reiterates his plea to be allowed into the BOP’s “Step-Down program” toward less isolated confinement. The complete declaration, which runs to 64 pages, can be read here
For a further update click on, or copy and paste the link below, N.B. where it states 26 years, read 28 years.