“It was Tom and myself that started this Web-site, way back, unfortunately as Tom has stated i took ill in 2015 & was Hospitalized and could no longer handle managing the Web-site, so at short notice a good friend stepped in as a temporary measure until a new Web-master could be found, I am pleased to say that slot has now been filled by Richard, and he is doing a Sterling job, i’m afraid i wasn’t doing Tommy or the Site any Justice not being computer savvy….I can relax now knowing the Site is in very capable hands, wishing you all the best for the future Barri J”
Some of you may recognize this posting as a revised version of one that appeared much earlier on Tom’s old website. We have edited and updated it; we have also permanently posted it as a page under Tom in his own words on this website; it will be posted here for several weeks so that readers may leave comments, and after that time this post will be removed (but the page left intact).
From: Tom Silverstein
To: The extraordinary guests on this website
My name is Tom Silverstein, A.K.A, Tommy. I’ve been incarcerated since 1975 and am currently the longest held prisoner in total solitary confinement within the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) and perhaps in America and the world.
Not even the notorious “Birdman of Alcatraz” was held in (total solitary confinement) absolute isolation, as I have been subjected to the past 34 years! He was able to see and speak with his neighbours in adjacent cells beside and across from his cell at U.S.P. Leavenworth in building 63 (where I spent over a year in 1979-80), whereas I am deprived of any and all contact with fellow prisoners.
There are several reasons we’ve started this site. We hope to reveal, from a prisoner’s personal perspective, what truly goes on behind prison gates, which is seldom, if ever, presented by the corporate, mainstream media, much less seriously challenged. On the contrary, and sadly, when media do bother to report on U.S. penitentiaries, it’s miserably inadequate and skewed in favour of the prisoncrats. The media’s premise is usually “them against us,” “us” being called the “worst of the worst,” while guards use that ploy to justify their maliciousness
This site also hopes to give the voiceless an opportunity to finally be heard loud and clear. We care more about what’s said, than how people say it!
We welcome one and all to our new site. Regardless of sex, race, religion, class, height, weight, looks, education, citizenship, etc. We respect your input and interest in what we share together, so please don’t hesitate to express yourself whenever the urge strikes. But I must warn you–we believe in free speech. A lot of folks say that, until they hear what they don’t like and suddenly want to ban it. If anyone objects to adult language, being expressed about adult issues, I suggest you stick with the mainstream sources who spoon-feed the public their sterilized, sugar-coated version of events and commentary.
If all goes well, we hope to enlist some investigative reporter(s) to delve into the U.S. penal/injustice system so you all can see what is happening within U.S. penitentiaries.
I’ll include my recent appeals so you can read for yourself my argument for getting out of this damnation and their denials.
We have four levels of appeals: two at the prison, one to the regional director and the last (fourth) to the BOP director in Washington, D.C. We (prisoners) seldom win an appeal. It’s really just a sham they use to assure the public that any grievances we have are reviewed by higher level administrators, which is comparable to cops policing themselves. I however have gone through the process several times in order to obtain irrefutable evidence, so no one would have to just take my word regarding my allegations that prisoners seldom win appeals.
The BOP enjoys giving the illusion that our problems will be solved if we (the prisoners) would only file appeals. Although this process is stress-producing, it is a legal requirement that I exhaust all my administrative remedies (appeals) before I can petition the courts to make the BOP officials do what they’re determined not to do on their own. As you can see if you follow the paper trail on this website, I have made several appeals and even carried my case to federal court. I have never succeeded in getting my solitary confinement status changed to allow me to enter a stepdown program for eventual return to the general population in prison.
After 35 long hard years in some of America’s most cruel and harsh prisons–Soledad, San Quentin, U.S.P. Leavenworth, Atlanta, Marion and Florence–I now know exactly why the Irish dramatist, novelist, poet and wit, Oscar Wilde, said after his imprisonment (1895-97) that if you ever want to see the scum of the earth, go to your local prison and observe the changing of the guards.
I am in the U.S. of A.’s BOP’s most Draconian and repressive SuperMax penitentiary in this country and perhaps the world. It’s replaced the horrific U.S.P. Marion in Illinois. The BOP opened the Administrative Maximum (ADX) in Florence, Colorado, in1994. The BOP has had three decades to sharpen their instruments of human torture and degradation, in order to make hell a living reality at their new and improved monster of a United States Penitentiary (U.S.P.) in Florence, Colorado!
In the early 1800 and 1900s prisons warehoused prisoners in dirty, stark, solitary confinement cells and a large number of them never left, or left with serious mental disorders.
A delegation from Europe came to America and with the well-known author, Charles Dickens, toured the U.S. prison system. Upon completion of the tour, there was a very negative report. But something Charles Dickens wrote played an integral part in waking up society to the inhumanity of solitary confinement:
“I believe that few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts. There is a depth of terrible endurance in it which none but the sufferers can fathom. I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body; and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the surface, therefore the more I denounce it as a secret punishment which a slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay.”
This commentary by Dickens influenced the U.S. Supreme Court to review the use of solitary confinement and it concluded that it indeed caused mental disorders and was therefore a violation of the 8th Amendment (the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment). New guidelines were established nationwide, banning the use of solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days. This saved thousands of prisoners and millions of tax dollars. It also protected society from the release of damaged, often psychotic men and women.
In 1952, an administrator at the New Jersey state prison figured a way around the ban. At the time, he truly believed in what he was doing. He changed the name from “solitary confinement” and renamed it “administrative segregation” and classified it as “treatment.”
Four years later that administrator, Richard R. Korn, realized he was mistaken and that solitary, in whatever disguise, could not be treatment, that it did indeed cause serious psychological damage. He stood up and protested, but the system had once again embraced it as a tool of control, the consequences to the prisoners and society be damned.
An old adage proclaims that a sure sign of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over again, expecting a different result. History and studies clearly show that solitary confinement does more harm than good, that it reveals the idiocy and sadistic mentality of prison administrators who embrace this barbaric, medieval practice, and that it is a crime against humanity. Solitary confinement should be abolished, and I should be returned to the general prison population.
To My Friends, Family and Supporters,
As some of u know, I had a forced hiatus when my dear pal and webmaster fell ill! Thankfully he’s alive and kickin’, but sadly he hasn’t recovered. L On the contrary, one ailment brings on another! So I lost interest in our site without him since we started it together and just wanted us to focus on his health.
Thankfully our good friend filled in for us and helped with needed adjustments, but it just existed without our active participation.
However, with my pal’s blessing, I decided to pick up where we left off, with the much-needed help and support of a good friend willing and able to take the helm. He has great ideas and is ready to keep it going and make it as user-friendly as possible.
Many of u may be happy to know, after years of u-all asking me to write a book, that I finally started telling my own story, in my own words. Aside from u-all encouraging me to do it, I’m sick of others telling it feloniously and profiting at my expense.
Which is why we refer to our site as the “Official Website.” I’m sick of others using my name and misery on all the bogus sites out there.
The only two I honor is Renee’s and Pete Earley’s websites.
Unfortunately, people who search my name come across a couple of unauthorized sites first and what info they provide was pilfered from Pete’s renowned book The Hot House. None of it is original and some of the so-called “facts” are inaccurate. I’d like folks seeking info to get it from me, not from parasites who don’t know me and only post what they got third- and fourth-hand.
If there’s any computer whiz out there who knows how to put my site first, I’d truly appreciate letting us know at your earliest convenience.
If it can’t be done, please help us let folks know about the only authentic sites that we acknowledge.
Meanwhile, please take special care and thank u for your love and support.
Your pal, Tommy
We have just learned that, unfortunately, some people still try to profit from Tom’s position by selling his letters as collector’s items. The most recent was online by a website called Las Vegas Oddities.
Tom has consistently opposed this illicit market in his letters or artwork, and continues to urge people NOT to support such endeavors. If you want Tom’s autograph, write him a letter directly (see page on this site for his address). He will respond as soon as he can.
If, on the other hand, you were thinking of spending tens–or even hundreds–of dollars on such a letter from a third party, please consider sending some or all of that money instead to Tom. He will certainly reply with a letter of thanks. (See the page on this site for instructions on sending Tom money.)
Regardless, know that Tom does not approve of this illicit market and hopes you will not participate in it.
After a long delay (not his fault), I received a letter from Tom with the new photo of him I’ve attached below. He remains cut off from human contact except for the guards who deliver his meals. NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THIS REGARD. The good news is that part of the book he is writing about his life has been typed up and read by Pete Earley, who is also lining up a publisher for the book. I’ll keep you informed as I get more news from Tom.
I have mailed Tom copies of the new website pages and am awaiting his approval of all the material. The delays in our correspondence are more than a little frustrating, but there is nothing that we can do to improve the behaviour of BOP. Bear with us.
So, please leave a comment for Tom or, better yet, write to him directly (see the page with his address). He would like to hear from every visitor.
Welcome to the new website for Thomas Silverstein, aka Tommy. I am working on this site, and it will replace the crashed site. I’m a novice at web design and management, so please be forgiving. I intend to update Tom’s status, provide links to recent relevant events (like court decisions, etc.), offer a section for comments, which I will forward to Tom via snail mail. Be patient, please. R.F.G.