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 28 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 had spent over a year in 1979-80). Whereas I am deprived of any and all contact with fellow prisoners.
Prisoncrats have sadly, but most definitely, surpassed their previous diabolical means of burying a man alive in the twenty first century since the Birdman’s era.
These pathetically sadistic agents of oppression eerily have excelled at intensifying the environment of sensory deprivation and psychological torture, which is what causes sane men to be driven completely insane. This has been scientifically proven. I do not arbitrarily charge my tormentors as “sadist.” They know exactly the effects of long term isolation and intentionally, with malice and forethought, continue it.
I’ll include my recent appeals so you can read it for yourself my argument for getting out of this damnation and their denials.
We have four levels of appeals. Two at the prison, three 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 the cops policing themselves. Ha ha! It is not worth the paper it’s written on. I however went through the process anyway in order to obtain irrefutable evidence, so no one would have to just take my word regarding my allegations.
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 hopefully make the BOP officials do what they’re determined not to do on their own. You’ll note they don’t make it easy for me in this regard either, because as they often do when they don’t want to address an issue, they’ll dismiss it as “untimely” or claim they didn’t receive it, etc. Prisoncrats, like politicians, lack the integrity to just spit it out as they really see it, so they hide behind the same procedures that they’ve created and implemented; so in the rare event someone like me dares to expose this nonsense, they can claim everything was in accordance with BOP policy.
This is one reason we’ve started this site. We hope to reveal, from a prisoners personal perspective, what truly goes on behind these prison gates of hell, that are seldom, if ever, presented by the corporate, mainstream media, much less seriously challenged. On the contrary and sadly, when they do bother to report on U.S. penitentiaries, it’s miserably inadequate and skewed in favour of the prisoncrats. Their premise being “them against us.” “Us” being called the “worst of the worst,” while guards use that ploy to justify their madness, abuse, and means of confinement.
We welcome one and all to our new site. Regardless of sex, race, religion, class, height, weight, looks, education, citizenship, etc. We honor your input and interest in what all 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, in fear of offending someone who’ll stop buying their paper.
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!
If all goes well, we hope to enlist some profound columnist to share their investigative insights into the U.S. penal/injustice system so you all can see what is happening within the U.S. penitentiaries since your hard earned and over taxed dollars are paying for it. You all should have a say about how these government asylums are run and by whom. Especially when George Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales continue to assure the public that the U.S. government doesn’t condone torture.
When in fact, both men support torture, as evidenced by the 23 years I have served in total solitary confinement; torture intended to make my life “a living hell.” I’m an American citizen, so if they can get away doing it to me, they can do it to anyone!
A former law clerk to Clarence Thomas and a member of the right wing federalist society, John Woo, was among a group of Bush administration lawyers, including Alberto Gonzales, now Bush’s Attorney General, who crafted legal justification giving Bush a free hand to order the torture of those he has declared as “illegal combatants” and held at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere. I am not an illegal combatant and I am accused of killing gang members (members of a prison gang) and one prison guard, not members of the armed services fighting a war.
According to the PBS documentary “The Torture Question,” after 9/11, John Yoo “wrote the first draft of a sweeping war powers authorization designed to give president Bush unprecedented power. The new statue would vest virtually unlimited power in the President to fight the war on terror. Congress passed it overwhelmingly.”
The following quotes by John Yoo are from New York magazine (“Outsourcing Torture” by Jane Mayer):
“There is a category of behaviour not covered by the legal system…if you were an illegal combatant, you didn’t deserve the protection of the laws of war…they were tried in a military court and executed.”
Congress has no power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.”
“It’s the core of the commander in chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.”
Conservative my ass! These people are Nazi’s! This is not surprising to U.S. prisoners since we are regularly subjected to this systems torturous techniques. What Yoo has professed publically isn’t anything new to this governments penal institutions and what they do to its own confined citizenry!
I’m not in Abu Ghraib or one of this governments secret prisons abroad, where they send suspected terrorist to be tortured so they can later claim the usual bureaucratic non-accountability if and when their deceitful manoeuvre is revealed. 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 had three decades to sharpen their instruments of human destruction and degradation, in order to make “hell a living reality at their new and improved monster at the United States Penitentiary (U.S.P.) in Florence, Colorado where real life is stranger than fiction and in the absence of light, darkness prevails!
After 35 long hard years in some of American’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 for homosexual offences (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.
In an article entitled “US Prison Torture and You” it states in the early 1800 and 1900’s prisons warehoused prisoners in dirty, stark, solitary confinement cells (now they leave a maddening bright light on 24-7) 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, caused the U.S. Supreme Court to review the use of solitary confinement and they 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 remained 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 it, 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 the sure sign of insanity, is repeating the same mistakes over again, expecting a different result. Since history clearly shows us that solitary confinement does more harm than good, proves the idiocy and sadistic mentality of prison administrators who embrace this barbaric, medieval practice that is a crime against humanity.
More to follow, but for now, I wish you all and hope you all continue to visit us!
Your new pal, I hope!
Hi, My friends and supporters, long-time no hear, I’m sorry about that, but it has to be this way until further notice, however, I truly appreciate that you still check in for any updates etc.
The reason I’m back now is cuz it’s been brought to my attention on several times that someone is contacting folks on line claiming to be my “wife” and collecting funds for prisoners using their own address, not the approved site on the BOP website under “inmate money”
I’m not married, nor do I appreciate her using that title as authority to speak for me or, and a right to speak for herself as tho I agree, no one speaks for me except me and my good and trusted pal B.J. when need be.
Sadly this person has also nonsensically and falsely attached and made accusations against innocent folks who have supported and behind me.
I truly apologize for any problems this person may have caused you in anyway.
Also I have a brilliant bright and dedicated legal team and a core group of supporters who only have my best interest at heart and don’t try to undermine me or, and chase folks away from aiding me in anyway they can, so please ignore anyone who contacts you claiming to help me and possibly seeking support for me.
I don’t need, nor want this kind of ill support from anyone, especially from someone who claims to be my wife / friend! With pals like this, who needs enemies!
Please take care and feel free to contact me just for the heck of it or, and if someone claiming to be my wife contacts you!
Please be my eyes and ears on line since I don’t have a computer, and unable to know what’s said and by whom.
Your pal Tommy
Note from BJ,
Those folks wishing to help out and send funds, please do it by the correct and approved site via the BOP official page under inmate money, to the Iowa address, DON’T send to anyone’s private address asking for prisoner funds. These are bogus and I suspect the same person claiming to be Tommy’s wife.