Tuesday, December 8, 2009


A brief look at the conditions in the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado from the Denver Post.

An excerpt.

“It would be easier never to have heard of Tommy Silverstein.

“The convicted bank robber is locked in the federal Supermax in Florence until 2095 for killing two fellow inmates and fatally stabbing a guard.

“I don't defend the former member of the Aryan Brotherhood, considered one of the country's most dangerous prisoners. I'm far less interested in him than in his quarter-century in extreme isolation and in what those conditions mean about us and our system.

“Silverstein, 57, has lived behind bars since age 20. He spent 26 years under a "no human contact order."

“He did a year in a federal pen in Atlanta, where he was permitted no books or clothes. Then came a transfer to Leavenworth, where his 6-by-7-foot basement cell was infested with rats.

“Next, he spent 15 years in another cell at Leavenworth known as the Silverstein Suite. He lived under constant surveillance and the buzz of 24-hour fluorescent lighting.

“Guards refused to speak to him as a way of honoring the guard he killed.

“Silverstein transferred in 2005 to a similar lockdown in the secretive Range 13 at Florence where only one other prisoner, World Trade Center bomber Ramsey Yusef, was housed. Each was locked in cages within cages in the most restrictive unit of the country's highest security prison.

“Silverstein taught himself to read, write and sketch in prison. He never knew how long his isolation would last or what he could do to end it.”