“ADX steals Tommy Silverstein’s art and manuscript”

This was literally taken over, at the request of Tom, from here:

There is nothing that ADX won’t do to stop Tommy from telling his story.

After many years of concerned and caring folks asking Tommy to finally tell his story & let the public really know what’s going on for the past 32+years in isolation, I will transcribe his words in quotations.in the first person as he has written it to me.

Tom started writing his story, chapter 1 was not allowed out for “security” reasons; Tom paid for certified postage, to be sent to Pete Earley the author; Almost a month and a half went by with no return receipt, so Tom began to write the censor what are called COPOUTS, to find out what happened to his manuscript. It took the SIS or censor at least a week to tell Tom that it had been “confiscated”. Now another month later he is told the manuscript is “lost”, the censor said she “sent it back to him”, well “surprise, surprise” he didn’t get it. And he was finally told it was rejected because he “describes procedures, ha ha, what BS. . God forbid if folks know how I’m cuffed when I leave & enter the cell” Tom then muses “They show all that on Lock-up but ADX is different? Ha ha we know that’s not the real reason”

Now if that wasn’t enough 3 of Tommy’s drawings were also “confiscated” for containing “gang related” material, Tom has no idea what they mean by “gang related” even asking them “What’s gang related?”, She “wouldn’t” say, so Tommy asked. “What can’t I draw, so they stop stealing my art?” She the SIS/censor said “You know” (here he draws little confused face) “I have never drawn gang related stuff, for this reason, but suddenly now these new SIS techs claim my 3 drawings are “full of it!!”  That’s why I know its BS because I don’t do it, is why they are making it up. (angry face) Tommy describes the drawings; one drawing is a dark, black and white evil depiction of ADX. Another is a female warrior & last is a Geisha with a dragon on her kimono.

Tommy’s currently appealing these “thefts & retaliation”, (I agree with him, there’s no real reason except to steal his art), for trying to expose the depravity of ADX and what he is subjected to.

Tommy spends weeks on a drawing putting his heart and soul into it and for it to be taken from him for bogus reasons is sick and twisted.

My question to readers is Have any of you ever seen any of Tommy’s art depicting anything remotely gang related?

One of Tommy’s recent drawings to me

 

Tommy says to tell you we will keep you all posted. I’ll post copies of his appeals so you all can read it for yourselves.

Tommy is shaken up and angry, I get angry reading it and rereading it, trying to think of how I can help.

Tommy has not asked for help but I got so mad I wrote the Director of the BOP. No reply not a surprise.  The key to writing any prison authority is do not ask a question, if you ask a question they will send you a form letter citing a rule. I tell them what I am appalled by, insisted upon an investigation.

Here’s his address.

Thomas R. Kane, Ph.D.
Federal Bureau of Prisons
320 First St., NW
Washington, DC 20534

Phone:(202) 307-3198

Per the BOP inmates are allowed to write a manuscript 5350.27

Update on Tom

Tom was sent to the “hole” inside the “hole” for reasons not really clear. He is out of this place after 1 1/2 month of extra punishment. The paperwork we received did not make clear that the issue was properly researched, investigated, but we move on now. Prison ‘politics’ by the prisoncrats, their games of divide and rule, and making sure someone keeps locked up inside solitary confinement are the main reasons these episodes happen and are repeated over and over again.

What can you do?

Send Tom a card, a letter to show that you care, and that you stand above the abuses of the games played with someone sentenced to perpetual solitary confinement. It will surely lift his spirits.

Send your cheerful card, with your return addres in the top left corner, to:

Tom Silverstein, Reg No 14634-116
E-603
U.S. Penitentiary Max.
P.O. Box 8500,
Florence Co 81226-8500
U.S.A.

Thank you!

From Boston Globe: Colorado prison ‘a high-tech version of hell’

This article was published on April 26th, 2015 in the Boston Globe. Tom was quoted in it:

In a sworn statement as a part of a separate lawsuit filed against the Bureau of Prisons in 2011, Thomas Silverstein , who has spent more than three decades in solitary confinement after killing a guard at another federal prison, testified to the deprivation of going years without seeing “a single tree, a blade of grass, or any sign of nature.”

He described the outdoor recreation area at the ADX — where he can take 10 steps in either direction and 30 steps if he walks in a circle — as similar to standing “inside of a deep, empty swimming pool.”

“I couldn’t see any of the mountains, even though I knew they had to be close by,” he said.

He added: “Other than infrequent haircuts, strip searches, and medical examinations, the only physical human contact I have experienced in 28 years is when BOP officers handcuff me and escort me.”

Only in America

Only in America

By Tom Silverstein

In life, I feel, there are some things that one can never understand in any meaningful sense without first-hand experience. And no amount of verbalization or philosophization can ever do justice to describing the way one feels when it comes to such ordeals.

My experience of extreme seclusion with no human contact or meaningful interpersonal socialization for three decades, I believe, is just one of those things that only I will ever fully comprehend. It has been something so horrifying to the human mind that he only even remotely comparable parallel I can imagine is to be literally buried alive, not for a day or a year, but for an entire lifetime.

I alone truly know how terrifying to the human psyche this endless, utterly barbaric torture has been, and yet, since taking the matter to the courts, I have had to suffer through the stench of such pontifical puke as I never imagined a rational mind could spout.

How it is that these sheltered, robe-wearing, juridic casuists could sit up their high horses and explain away the 31 years of mental excruciation that I have endured day by unrelenting day, as though they could relate to it and therefore knew it to be neither cruel nor unusual, to me at least, is as high a height of hypocrisy as one could ever ascend.

In detailing how 31 years of no-human contact solitary confinement feels, the most recent Opinion from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissively swept aside any lack of interpersonal socialization I’ve experienced, by explaining that, indeed, I’ve had contact all along with prison officials on a daily basis when, for example, they have brought my meals or otherwise exercised their authority over me in a manner that called for physical propinquity like during thousands of strip searches when they eye-balled my anus after forcing me to spread my ass-cheeks and jiggle my genitals).

Forget about the fact that these people were extremely antipathetic and openly hateful towards me, the most reviled guard-killer in the BOP (Bureau of Prison), just the fact that they were real humans who I could, in theory at least, talk to, was enough in the mind of the court to disprove my claims of no-human-contact. And this insensibility to the true antagonistic nature of those guard-killer / prisoner-hater relationships exemplifies just how out of touch with reality the court really was.

It is beyond ludicrous to suggest that my isolation from human contact was alleviated by the contact I had with the very people who were turning the screw on my mental rack, day after agonizing day. This was not “human contact.” It was “dehumanizing contact.” And far from lessening the effects of my isolation, it exacerbated them because these people competed with each other to see who could rattle my cage the loudest (so to speak).
Another primary factor relied upon by the court in justifying my treatment was the numerous times I was “evaluated” by mental health professionals. Never mind the fact that virtually every single one of these so-called “evaluations” consisted of nothing more than a half-minute “Hi how are you?” to which I’d give the standard, albeit meaningless, reply of “Fine.” And having “examined” me in this fashion over a period of years, Dr. Denny informed the court that he was quite impressed with my apparent resilience in maintaining my sanity under such extreme conditions of confinement.

Ironically, it was this opinion by Dr. Denny regarding my “resilience” that the court fixated on in rejecting my claim of Cruel and Unusual Punishment, implying that it was my own ability to withstand the torture that prevented it from being cruel and unusual.

In other words, prison officials may feel free to torture one as much as they want as long as the individual is strong enough to bear it.

To me, the entire Opinion really begs the question of just how far prison officials can go in their inhumanity to man before the 10th circuit will call it “cruel and unusual?”
Consider, for example, the following quotation from the court:

We have held corrections officers are responsible under the Eighth Amendment “to provide humane conditions of confinement by ensuring inmates receive basic necessities of adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care, and by taking reasonable measures to guarantee the inmates’ safety.”

I saw a futuristic movie on the SYFY Channel recently, about a space-based Supermax prison where prisoners were maintained in a state of suspended animation, hooked up to nutrition tubes and cryogenically preserved for the length of their sentences. This, or even Neo’s bubble-chamber existence in the Matrix, would pass Constitutional muster under the Tenth Circuit’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment standard. Food, clothing, shelter, medical care and safety-the “minimal civilized measures of life’s necessities”- if that is all the Constitution requires then we are truly not far off from induced vegetative unconsciousness as a Constitutionally acceptable form of punishment.

The point I am trying to make is that my case shows quite clearly that, when it comes to prisoners, the courts define humanity primarily in relation only to the human body and essentially disregard the human mind altogether. My being isolated from everyone but those who have openly hated me for 31 years was not a factor as far as the court was concerned. Indeed, they even went so far as to say this proved I was not deprived of human contact. How out of touch with reality does one have to be to even imply such an absurd notion? It really is one feature of the court’s Opinion that I will never be able to read without complete stupefaction. As if the only thing that prevented these people from giving me a hug was the bars of my cell.

I’m trying to think of a common example from everyday society that remotely exemplifies the degree of stress a human mind experiences from purely hate-based interactions- the tyrannical boss, the mentally abusive spouse, the irate mother-in-law; such things, while truly unpleasant and stressful, do very little justice as frames of reference to my unique experience as an object of perpetual animosity.

In no way am I suggesting that anyone (perhaps myself most especially) is constitutionally entitled to kindness or sympathy in any form. Passionless professionalism is perfectly appropriate for a prison guard. But my situation included quite the opposite of that. Instead of no passion at all, there was passion aplenty; hated, hateful and malicious. Quite often accompanied by a great many spit-laced meals and a myriad amount of other spiteful, vicious antics designed purely to antagonize me.

For the court to say the Eighth Amendment entitles me only to be kept alive with adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical attention is one thing. That may, indeed, be the extent to which our maturing society has progressed with its evolving standards of decency since the Constitution’s creation (the Supreme Court’s “Cruel & Unusual” measurement standard). And had the court stopped right there in its opinion of “how my life has felt” I would be far less incensed on this issue. But for the court to go from there, all the way to the absurdity of saying that the very people who have openly and actively reviled me every single day, equal, by essence of their presence, some sort of consolation to my isolation, bespeaks a level of misunderstanding so profound as to defy any attempt to explain it.

Only in America will you find a court conscientiously unaverse to espousing such sophistic hogwash. And only in America will you find a government system so engorged with hubris and inflated with its own self-righteousness that it cannot apprehend the degree of hypocrisy it takes to dish out the sort of torture I’ve endured with its one hand, while simultaneously using the pointed finger of its other hand to accuse the rest of the world of human rights violations that pale in comparison to its own. And when the duplicity of this “Sweet Land of Liberty” is exposed, “America, the Beautiful” will simply change its stripes to fit whatever occasion it seeks to justify.

Consider, for example, the recent exposé from Amnesty International entitled “Entombed: Isolation in the U.S. Federal Prison System” . In this scathing critique of the U.S. regarding its violations of international treaties (including the United Nations convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ‘ICCPR’), Amnesty International, after detailing at length America’s solitary confinement human rights atrocities, went on to note that:

The USA has sought to limit its obligation under article 7 of the ICCPR and article 16 of The Convention Against Torture, by entering reservations upon ratification of treaties stating that it considers itself bound by article 7 and 16 only to the extent “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” means the “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited under the U.S. Constitution.

In other words, what the rest of the world calls “torture,” and what to them is “cruel, inhuman and degrading,” may be cruel, but certainly not “unusual” for the U.S., because we are always (“usually”) doing it. And since the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit what is only “cruel” unless its “unusual” as well, as long as the U.S. keeps doing it, it will never be unconstitutional. So whether it be an hour’s worth of waterboarding, or 31 years-worth of extreme no-human contact entombment, in America it will never amount to what the rest of the world calls “torture,” so long as it’s par for our course of cruelties.
But only in America.

December, 2014

Contact:

Tom Silverstein, Reg No 14634-116
E-06-602
U.S. Penitentiary Max.
P.O. Box 8500,
Florence, CO 81226-8500
U.S.A

Website: Thomassilverstein.com

Summary of a guestbook posting about Protective Custody (PC) housing

The following is a paraphrased account of Thomas Silverstein’s guestbook post on January 14th 2011 as a response to a viewer on his site. Originally on http://www.TommySilverstein.bravehost.com

Silverstein was first moved to a “Protective Custody” (PC) unit but was kept isolated from the others for the first few months. “D” unit was later reclassified as a “General Population” (GP) unit and a few high profile inmates joined him but most of the PC inmates remained.

He maintains that this is not safe for the PC population and the GP population is very uncomfortable with their presence there.

After years of isolation it took Silverstein a period of time to figure out how ADX operated.

When he realized who he was housed with he came to the conclusion that he was being set up in three ways.

First they seek to undermine his reputation by housing him with known informants (a practice that he has never heard of before). This makes other inmates question why he is being held there.

Secondly by surrounding him with informants the authorities hope to find a reason that they can point to keep him isolated. It doesn’t matter if the allegation is true or not, and he points out that these informants have every reason to lie in order to gain favors from staff but have nothing else to lose.

Thirdly by placing severely mentally ill inmates in adjacent cells they deprive him of rest. The howling and banging is continual and he points out that the lack of sleep hinders not only his but everyone’s ability to complete the step down program’s requirements. It also makes maintaining congenial interactions with staff difficult. Also it hinders their ability to complete the required educational classes.

He believes that there are two main reasons for mixing the mentally ill in with GP inmates trying to complete the step down program.

First staff hopes it will either drive him mad, hinder his ability to complete the program, or cause him to threaten the source of his discomfort any of which would give staff an excuse to keep him isolated.

Or he believes the staff may not want to admit that they are illegally housing the mentally ill.

He points out how informants manipulate the system to gain favors and how they attempt to involve him in their petty conflicts which incite.

He comments about the illogical shuffling of inmates between cells in a humorous account reminiscent of Abbott and Costellos’ Who’s on First skit. One of the cells has a plastic cover over the TV.

Unit “D” has been nick named Bombers row and this one cell is designed with two different inmates in mind. It seems the staff fears one of the two could build a bomb out of the electronics inside the TV but Tom asks “with what other ingredients?” Even the evil genius Ted Kaczynsk ake the Unabomber needed other ingredients. Right?

He signs off by pointing out that during the four hours it took him to write this all down the mentally ill inmate housed next to him, and connected by an air vent that allows the sound to freely enter his room, had never stopped ranting and raving in his multiple personalities. He points out that this is Cruel and Unusual Punishment and that it should not be allowed in any country. And I agree!

Thomas Silverstein Civil Case Documents and great Amicus Curiae Brief to the Court not enough to convince Court

This is from Thomas Silverstein’s website, which can also be found by going to Thomassilverstein.com:

A message from Tommy:

To: All my friends & supporters & of course, loved ones & haters.

A long time no hear I know, I assure U, I’ve missed U all & your constant show of love & support which had helped me through many dark & hopeless storms! But sadly for legal reasons I had to take a reluctant hiatus, which is still N effect )-: However, 4 now, I wanna truly thank all of U who checks in even tho its been uneventful, 4 your due diligence & unshakable loyalty.

As U may or may not of heard, I lost my battle 2 B released from isolation )-: But the War continues as we ready another appeal. Meanwhile, we’ll post my attorneys written transcript of her Oral argument B4 the 10th Circuit appellant court 4 those interested N the intimate details. We were only allowed 15 minutes 2 plead R case )-: But sadly, when we post their decision ,u’ll C they already had made up their minds, so our 15 minutes was just 4 show, so they can claim we had our case heard.

Hopefully in the near future, we’ll B able 2 let you hear the hearing audibly, which is a riveting volley of pleas between David vs Goliath B4 a panel of 3 God – awful Judicial rulers. Only this battle, David was a petite Jewish woman with the heart of a Lioness & courage of a Blind Gun-fighter, who slain the Govt’s giant N vain when her plea fell upon Deaf ears & heartless souls )-: I realize many of U have already heared of the decision & even read it, so this is a bit ass backward, however, reading / hearing R defence may help 2 understand Y I say R plea fell upon deaf ears & Y they already had their minds made up & just gave their stamp of approval 2 what ever the B.O.P. does regardless of how it effects their charges !

We shall commence R Chat-room Guest-book when possible, so please stay tuned & thanks once again 4 your love & endless support! It truly means the world 2 me ! Your Pal….Tom Silverstein – Please read the Transcript here.
9th August 2014.

Dear Friends,

Sadly I bring you all more bad news from my personal hell-hole, last night I received notice from my Attorney that latest Appeal we filed was denied.

After the 10th Circuit appellate court denied us any action, we were left with 3 choices, actually 4, 1) Do nothing, 2) ask that they reconsider it  but judges rarely, if ever, admit they made a mistake, so that was out of the question: 3) File to the Supreme Court, but its bad enough they can use my case in the 10th Circuit, to keep prisoners isolated indefinitely so I don’t want to risk setting a precedence, since once the Supreme Beings rule on a case, that’s law for the country.

So we choose # 4 an En Banc hearing, which is rarely granted. Asking all the Judges in the 10th Circuit (12 I think) to hear our case instead of the 3 who did. We believe “Particularity” points of law or facts were overlooked or misapprehended,  which I suspect you’ll agree after reading my Attorneys’ AWSOME motion (that hopefully with accompany this kite, so those of you interested can read it for yourselves)

My Attorney and I need to re-group, so not sure what we’ll do next, but I’ll keep you posted as always.

Your pal, Tommy

Below we post the links to the case and the Amicus Curiae Brief:

Opening Brief of the Appeal in Case No 12-1450 (D.C. No. 1:07-cv-02471) of Feb 20, 2013

Oral Argument Silverstein v. Bureau of Prisons 12-1450, Sept. 24, 2013

Order and Judgment US Court of Appeal Tenth Circuit, May 22, 2014

Appelant’s Petition for Rehearing En Banc, July 7, 2014

Denial of Petition for Rehearing En Banc (with no explanation), July 18, 2014

Amicus Curiae Brief to the Court by Psychologist Organizations and Psychologists on behalf of Thomas Silverstein (Feb. 27, 2013):

This is a letter to the court on behalf of Appelant Thomas Silverstein, containing much literature and references to the torture of solitary confinement, and is endorsed/written by:

Amici include:

(1) psychiatrists and psychologists who have dedicated their careers to studying and documenting the mental health of inmates across various prison facilities, including supermax prisons and segregation units; and (2) mental health professional organizations whose efforts are directed toward improving the mental health of inmates, including those in solitary confinement.

The Association of Black Psychologists is focused on influencing and affecting social change and developing programs whereby Black psychologists can assist in solving problems of Black communities and other ethnic groups.

Coalition for an Ethical Psychology is a group of psychologists that actively opposes the involvement of health professionals in state-supported abuse with a national security rationale, including solitary confinement.

Mental Health America is a national advocacy organization dedicated to promoting mental health and achieving victory over mental illnesses and addictions through advocacy, education, research, and service.

The Mental Health Project (MHP) of the Urban Justice Center is dedicated to enforcing the rights of low-income New Yorkers with mental illness. MHP has long been involved in efforts to end solitary confinement in prisons.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to ameliorating the lives of Americans affected by serious mental illnesses. NAMI has a long history of advocacy on criminal justice issues and is particularly concerned about the excessive use of prolonged solitary confinement on inmates with serious mental illnesses and the long-term negative effects of these practices on such individuals.

Physicians for Human Rights is an independent non-profit organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations against individuals.

Psychologists for Social Responsibility is an independent non-profit organization of psychologists and students that applies psychological knowledge to promote peace and social justice, including efforts to end solitary confinement.

Stanley L. Brodsky, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama. He has worked as Chief of Psychology at the United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, inspected solitary confinement facilities in 8 states as part of his clinical-forensic work, and conducts research and clinical assessment interviews for prisoners in a variety of isolation conditions.

Carl Clements, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Alabama. He has written extensively on correctional psychology for 40 years and has inspected dozens of prisons in the United States regarding the effects of overcrowding, offender classification procedures, and the mental health needs of prisoners.

Keith R. Curry, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who has over 20 years of experience evaluating conditions of confinement and its effects on mentally ill inmates.

Carl Fulwiler, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He has extensive experience with the mental health effects of isolated confinement, having interviewed over 200 inmates in over a dozen Segregated Housing Units.

Rafael Art. Javier, Ph.D., is the Director of the Post-Graduate Professional Program and Professor of Psychology at St. John’s University. He has presented at conferences and published extensively on ethnical and cultural issues in psychoanalytic theories and practice, including on issues of violence and its impact on general cognitive and emotional functioning.

Allen Keller, M.D., is an Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and the Director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors ofTorture. Dr. Keller’s scholarly work and research has included examining the impact of  prison conditions and access to health care on prisoner health.

Terry A. Kupers, M.D., M.S.P., is Institute Professor at The Wright Institute. He provides expert testimony as well as consultation and staff training regarding the psychological effects of prison conditions, including isolated confinement in supermaximum security units, the quality of correctional mental health care, and the

effects of sexual abuse in correctional settings. Dr. Kupers has published extensively on prisoners’ mental health.

David Lovell, Ph.D., M.S.W., is Research Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington. Professor Lovell and his colleagues conducted systematic interviews with inmates and staff in long-term solitary confinement units, along with reviews of prison records and clinical status.

Mona Lynch, Ph.D., is a Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Criminology, Law & Society at the University of California, Irvine. Trained as a social psychologist, her research focuses on criminal sentencing and punishment.

Katherine Porterfield, Ph.D., is a Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and a Staff Psychologist at Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. Dr. Porterfield has worked as a clinical evaluator on several cases of young people held in detention at Guantanamo Bay and frequently consults with attorneys handling cases involving torture, trauma, and maltreatment.

Keramet Reiter, Ph.D., J.D., M.A., is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Criminology, Law & Society and at the School of Law. She is an expert in corrections, punishment, and criminal law, especially the history and uses of solitary confinement.

Peter Scharff Smith, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Fellow at the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen. During the past 10 years, his research has focused on prisons and human rights, specifically the use and effects of solitary confinement in prisons internationally and in Denmark.

Hans Toch, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has served as a consultant to a number of correctional systems in the United States and abroad, and has received many awards for distinguished contributions to criminology and penology.

Patricia A. Zapf, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York. She has conducted over 2,500 forensic evaluations in both the United States and Canada and has served as an expert witness in a number of cases, including the prosecution of José Padilla.