August 17, 2010
About Mail and the Law Library
Thomas Silverstein states his mail is censored by SIS unlike some of the other inmates around him. This procedure leads to bureaucratic delays of his incoming and outgoing correspondence.
In addition he claims that there are frequent intentional or unintentional delays in his mails scheduled pickup and delivery. These delays can lead to significant legal problems when his mandated filing deadlines are not met.
Tom also claims that a legal document from his defense team which was marked to be opened only in front of him had arrived to him already opened by the SIS staff. And if such legal correspondence does miss its deadline the judge is more often inclined to believe the CO’s denial of interference then his claim of wrong doing.
Thomas Silverstein’s ability to mount a robust legal defense to end his isolation is hindered by, poor education, difficulty in accessing legal materials, and his unfamiliarity with computers. He gives this graphic account of how these factors all combine to hinder not only his defense but those of most inmates.
Thomas points out that when he was at in Leavenworth he often overheard the BOP’s tour guide, say that the inmates were allowed to use the Law library at the end of the tier, an empty room, with a new computer that the staff had just installed a few months before. However Silverstein claims that he put in 15 to 20 requests to use the facility to no avail.
Also Thomas Silverstein pointed to the fact that many prisoners are too illiterate to even read the directions for the computer. Silverstein says during the approximately 7 successful trips that he finally did make to the room, that he found the case materials too long and the legal language too difficult to interpret. Claiming “It all sounds Greek to me, including the instructions given on the prison TV station.”
With no actual law books and lacking any computer skills Silverstein was at a loss. He notes that,” Before, we could check out 3 law books at a time and return them within 24 hours. Now we’re only allowed 2 hours on the computer, (which only deals with legal cases and BOP policy, with no outside contacts. And anyone who has read legal cases, know how extensive some are, and 2 hrs is hardly enough time, especially for someone like me who reads at a snails pace. But to hear them tell it, we now have state of the art legal access.
By the way, no one comes around to show/help us either. I’m the type of guy who learns best when shown, so I asked the education guy a couple of weeks ago if he knows how to work the new computers and he said yes, so I told him I have a question to ask him, he got all hostile and snapped ‘Its not my job you were all given instructions!, and stormed off.”
Thomas Silverstein says, “mail meddling is part of their desire to cut me off from the outside world—once they alienate you, they try to break your hopes, then your resistance. I didn’t get any visits for about 10 years, because of the draconian policy that says we’re not allowed visits from anyone we didn’t know prior to prison.”
After 35 years of incarceration at a location far from his prior home and family Silverstein receives very few visits from his ever shrinking pool of relatives and old friends. Referring to this dilemma Silverstein asks “How many folks still know people from that long ago?” Only once in the last 27 years has Silverstein ever been allowed to add one “very special person” to this list.
Tom goes on to state “The BOP policy statement claims to encourage visits to maintain family and social ties, but it’s only a ploy to fool the public when in reality they do just the opposite.”
Tom gives this example as evidence; “Once my baby sister came to see me all the way from California, and the gate guards wouldn’t let her in. Their excuse was that the paperwork hadn’t been processed. This is not that unusual since most of the guards are too lazy to do their job. So instead of the guard saying that he would call my councilor or whoever, (they know who to call) he told her to leave. When she attempted to explain, that she had already been approved and had come a long way etc, he threatened to have her forcibly removed. It was winter and snowing! Luckily she knows how they operate, since she has visited me in just about all the pens that I’ve been in. So she called my councilor, and got in a few hours later, but the delay had cut our visit short! I cannot recall if it was this same time or another but when they let her in, they cancelled our visit 15 minutes later! The reason, every few months they have a power check and turn all the lights off for about 10– 5 minutes, but even then the emergency lights are always on.
We visited in a glass booth, over bugged phones, with 2 surveillance cameras and guards parked outside, staring at us ominously through a window, as if waiting for one wrong move to cancel our visit! Only a sadist could do what these folks do on a daily basis. My conscience would haunt me, if I did that to someone’s sister, no matter how I felt about her brother. It’s more macabre than that however. Chasing away a sweet woman who came 1000 miles to see her brother, after a number of years of not seeing each other, tearful, and cold, is something that he probably bragged about to his cronies who share his sense of cruelty, especially knowing that it was my sister and me that suffered his wrath.
Messing with our mail, calls, visits, property, and recreation time is the norm. Although our recreation time is very limited the unit staff cannot always manage even to allow us this pitiful amount of time without making up some lame excuse to cancel it so they can sit in their office drinking coffee and shooting the shit. It has been better lately, but when I first got here (D unit) I was lucky to make it out of my cell for indoor or outdoor recreation, once or twice a week. You have to be heartless to work in prison.”
About transporting prisoners:
Silverstein says, “First of all, the forced rectal exams are rape to us! I don’t know many heterosexual men willing to handle another grown man’s cock, balls and anus so there has to be some closet homosexual voyeurism underfoot, disguised as a security procedure or, it’s just meant as pure humiliation.”
About the Mentally ill:
“I’ve slept in some of the worst pens in America has to offer but I’ve never seen so many guys gone stir crazy as I’ve witnessed here at ADX! It’s daunting to see people lose their mind and knowing it’s inevitable. Everything they do here is designed to literally break us! All their security mumbo jumbo is whitewash used to conceal their real covert mission.”
And the just plain ill:
Speaking of the ADX staff Silverstein says; “I believe it’s their duty to walk each tier daily and address any issues that we have. But they just walk right by and you have to scream, because otherwise they act like they can’t hear you. If you do get them to stop, they often roll their eyes, wearing a pinched lip smirk, causing me to wish I wouldn’t have called them. So sometimes I just say never mind because I can tell that they’ll just blow me off anyway, so why bother.
The Prison Authorities mostly male nurses are the worst, and they’re the ones who are supposed to help us the most! And to add insult to injury, they charge us $2 just to talk to them so unless its serious, most guys just cant afford to get their ailments checked.”
Is all this about justice or is this just revenge? How will the other prisoners that are finally released, and many will be, look upon all of us that allowed this abuse?