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
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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.

Thomas Silverstein: Judge rules conditions at supermax not "extreme"

The following story from Denver Westworld shows that the judge in Tom Silverstein’s case is not informed about what solitary confinement can do to a human being. Maybe he does not have to be informed, but to us as ordinary persons it is very strange to see that a human being, who has been in extreme isolation since 28 years, is not allowed to live with lesser punitive restrictions. Because keeping a person locked up in a dungeon for years and then in a supermax where he is moved repeatedly in order to not be able to talk to others IS intentionally cruel and permanently punitive. The added drawing by Tom shows his cell that was specially built to isolate him to the utmost form all others, except for a few guards. So the question rises: what kind of “good behavior” can a prisoner in isolation show to make it out to general population again? Tom Silverstein went without a write up for years on end (since 1988). This alone makes it retaliation and torture, if he is not allowed to better himself!

For all who want to read about Tom’s life inside and others at Leavenworth Federal prison, please read the book The Hot House, by Pete Earley, a journalist who was allowed to go inside for a considerable amount of time and write a book about his findings.

We hope that an appeal is possible and that judges will see that isolating human beings from each other for such extreme amounts of time is only punitive and retaliatory and does nothing to correct someone. It is extreme revenge.

One more note: Tom is not allowed any visitors who have never met him since his incarceration, so that leaves him with very few visitors… Also, it is known to us that mail to Tom does disappear. So maybe these judges should check these important issues too.

From: Denver Westworld Blogs
By Alan Prendergast Wed., Oct. 5 2011

Federal judges in Denver are of two minds about the kind of punishment doled out at the supermax penitentiary in Florence. While one is allowing a Tanzanian terrorist’s complaint about the prison’s restrictions on his mail and visitors to proceed to trial, another has thrown out Thomas Silverstein’s lawsuit alleging cruel and unusual punishment as a result of more than a quarter-century of solitary confinement.

Conditions at the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum, or ADX, aren’t “atypically extreme,” Judge Philip Brimmer ruled.

Silverstein isn’t subject to the “special administrative measures” reserved for convicted terrorists at ADX, which severely limit their ability to communicate with any outsider, even family or legal counsel. But his journey through the federal prison system has been anything but typical.

A former Aryan Brotherhood leader, “Terrible Tommy” was convicted of four murders while in prison; one was later overturned. He’s now serving three consecutiive life sentences plus 45 years. The last killing, the 1983 slaying of a federal guard in the most secure unit of what was then the highest-security federal pen in the entire system, put him on a “no human contact” status that lasted for decades. For close to seventeen years he was housed in a specially designed, Hannibal-Lecter-like cell in the basement of Leavenworth where the lights were on 24 hours a day. In 2005 he was moved to a highly isolated range at ADX, as first reported in my feature “The Caged Life” (which also appears, with a coda, in The Best American Crime Reporting 2008).

Since Silverstein first filed his lawsuit in 2007, with assistance from student lawyers at the University of Denver, he’s been moved from his tomb in Range 13 to D Unit, which is considered “general population” at ADX. Inmates are still in solitary confinement and have meals in their cell, but they also have access to indoor and outdoor recreation and can shout to each other. That lessening in the general degree of Silverstein’s isolation seems to have been one factor in Brimmer’s decision to dismiss the former bank robber’s claims of enduring extreme deprivation and lack of any social contact.

U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials maintain that Silverstein’s placement in isolation is necessary because of his own extreme behavior — “plaintiff’s disciplinary record, in addition to the aforementioned murders, shows assaults of three staff members, a threat to a staff member, an attempt to escape by posing as a United States Marshal, and the discovery of weapons, handcuff keys, and lock picks in plaintiff’s rectum,” Brimmer notes.

But Silverstein hasn’t been cited for a disciplinary infraction since 1988, and even the BOP’s psychologists have rated the 59-year-old prisoner as having a “low” risk of violence for years.

Read the rest here

Solitary-confinement report conclusions outrage prison activists

From: Westword.com:
By Alan Prendergast, Tuesday, Jun. 8 2010

The release of a twelve-month study about the mental effects of solitary confinement at Colorado’s supermax is still weeks away.

But preliminary results leaked from the report — which suggest state prisoners suffer little, if any, psychological impact from even long-term stay in isolation cells — is already stirring outrage among prison activists and civil liberties attorneys.

A National Geographic special on solitary confinement that aired in April focused on life at the Colorado State Penitentiary, where inmates are housed in 23-hour-a-day lockdown. The program mentioned that the study’s preliminary findings indicated little effect on inmates’ mental health from their confinement.

That tidbit, which flies in the face of much of the scientific, peer-reviewed literature on the effects of solitary, has activists steeling themselves for the worst when the report is officially unveiled next month. The study and this fall’s expected opening of a second supermax, known as CSP 2, were hot topics at Tuesday’s American Civil Liberties Union talk by University of Denver law professor Laura Rovner.

Rovner, who’s involved in lawsuits challenging conditions of solitary confinement faced by 27-year federal lockdown champion Thomas Silverstein and mentally ill CSP inmate Troy Anderson, noted that the evidence of psychological deterioration in solitary is compelling — but that hasn’t deterred state and federal prison authorities from building more supermaxes.

“There are more people in supermaxes, so it doesn’t seem as shocking as it once did,” she said.

Several audience members, including a smattering of attorneys, commented on the upcoming report, which some suspect is designed to help pave the way for the opening of CSP 2 by minimizing the degree to which solitary may encourage paranoia, rage and suicide. A few questioned the methodology of the state’s research, which (at least as glimpsed in scenes from the NG special, which can be found here) seemed to rely on self-reporting from inmates desperate to get out of CSP. “Of course they’re going to say they’re okay,” one noted.

Rovner agreed. She recalled one supermax inmate she had interviewed who kept insisting he was doing just fine, despite a nasty wound. “It turned out he’d been trying to dig the FBI chip out of his head,” she said.

A summary of the report is expected to be presented to a state task force on prison mental health issues in mid-July.

Experiment in Solitary: National Geographic

This show will air This Sunday, April 11 at 7pm Eastern Time on the National Geographic Channel.

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Solitary Watch Watches National Geographic’s Experiment in Solitary Confinement

April 2, 2010

by Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

As we wrote earlier, it’s hard to say whether the National Geographic Channel’s treatment of solitary confinement will do more harm than good. In addition to an upcoming episode of “Explorer” on the subject, the NG Channel is hosting an ”experiment” that promises to provide a “live window into the solitary experience,” in which three subjects spend a week in faux lockdown cells (unless they want to leave earlier), with cameras streaming live video to the public and the “prisoners” providing updates on Twitter.

The potential good comes from the evidence of psychological damage that will probably surface even in the fresh-faced young volunteers who spend a mere week in the pristine “cells.” (And to its credit, the NG Channel’s site makes an effort to put their experience in broader context.)

The potential harm comes from the audience thinking what they watch on the live video stream bears any resemblance to the actual experience of prisoners in solitary confinement–which is far worse, in ways too numerous to count. After observing the NG experiment for a week, viewers could easily conclude that solitary confinement is extremely unpleasant, but falls short of constituting cruel and unusual punishment–and is far from the torture some critics say it is.  If so, they would be basing their conclusions on faulty evidence.

First of all, hardly anyone spends just a week in solitary. Used for “disciplinary” purposes, spells in solitary can last anywhere from several weeks to several years. Many of the inmates who end up in solitary are mentally ill; others (including many children) are there for their own “protection,” but nonetheless endure the same cruel conditions.

In addition, some 25,000 American prisoners live in long-term or permanent lockdown, which often stretches to decades: Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, of the Angola 3, have spent most of the past 37 years in solitary; Tommy Silverstein has spent an uninterrupted 27 years in solitary under a “no human contact” order; Syed Fahad Hashmi, who is accused of offering material support (in the form of clothing) to terrorists, has spent nearly three years in ultra-isolation under “Special Administrative Measures,” though he has yet to be convicted of a crime…

(Worth the rest of the article to follow this back )

Federal Lawsuit Challenges 27 Years of Supermax Confinement

SolitaryWatcch.wordpress.com
March 26, 2010

by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella

A suit brought by law students on behalf of one of the nation’s most most notorious supermax prisoners could break new ground in challenging long-term solitary confinement on Constitutional grounds.

Earlier this year, we wrote about the case of Thomas Silverstein, who has now spent 27 years in solitary under a “no human contact” order–and who recently sued the Bureau of Prisons with the help of the Civil Rights Law Clinic at the University of Denver. This week, a decision by a federal district court judge cleared the way for the case to move forward. Alan Prendergast, of the Denver weekly Westword, reported on these latest developments.

When you’ve spent your time since the early days of the Reagan years in a cell smaller than some people’s closets, progress tends to get measured in small, small increments rather than sweeping events.

But Thomas Silverstein, America’s most isolated federal prisoner, got some momentous news today. His lawsuit challenging his decades of solitary confinement is still alive.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer has ruled that Silverstein’s case, which raises questions about possible constitutional violations in the way the U.S. Bureau of Prisons consigns prisoners to administrative segregation for years or even decades, can move forward — a decision that could have implications for other federal prisoners in solitary, too.

A bank robber who was convicted of killing two inmates while serving time in the federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, Silverstein was put under a “no contact” order after he managed to murder a correctional officer at the high-security pen in 1983. Since that time, he’s been in basement isolation cells with buzzing lights, in his own wing of the Leavenworth pen, and, since 2005, buried in the bowels of the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum (ADX) in Florence…

Prison officials have contended that the extreme degree of isolation Silverstein has endured — including little or no communication with other inmates and entire years spent without leaving his cell — is necessary, in light of his violent history. But in 2007, law students at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law filed suit on his behalf, challenging his long confinement as cruel and unusual punishment and for lack of due process.

Brimmer’s ruling dismisses some of Silverstein’s claims against individual defendants, but leaves intact his Fifth and Eighth Amendment claims against the BOP. Although the case is still a long way from trial, DU law professor Laura Rovner views the ruling as a rare victory in civil-rights activists’ efforts to challenge the nature of solitary confinement itself.

In an email to Solitary Watch earlier this week, Laura Rovner explained the significance of the judge’s decision:

Probably the most significant part is the decision on the Eighth Amendment claim, as it is one of only two or three in the entire country where a court has held that solitary confinement alone is enough to state a claim for cruel and unusual punishment, even absent mental illness or other physical harm.

We anticipate and hope that this decision will have a positive impact on the ability of litigators across the country to challenge the disturbing trend of holding individuals in solitary confinement indefinitely.

Photo: Self portrait by Tommy Silverstein

Silverstein, who is now 57, is believed to have been held in complete and continuous isolation for longer than any other federal prisoner. The suit filed by Rovner and her students alleges that the government’s “deliberate indifference has resulted in Plaintiff suffering deprivations that cause mental harm that goes beyond the boundaries of what most human beings can psychologically tolerate.”

The full text of the judge’s decision in the case can be found here.

For more on Tommy Silverstein, see Alan Prendergast’s 2007 article The Caged Life.

America’s “Most Isolated Man” Sues the Bureau of Prisons

Article written and published on SolitaryWatch, on 21 January 2010



by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella

Tommy Silverstein has spent 26 years in federal supermax prisons under a “no human contact” order. Now, with the help of students at the University of Denver’s law school, he is one of a handful of prisoners who are challenging long-term solitary confinement on Constitutional grounds.

Silverstein, now 57, was first sent to San Quentin for armed robbery in 1971, when he was 19. By age 23 he was in Leavenworth, where he was active in the Aryan Brotherhood. After his conviction for the murder of a fellow prisoner (which was later overturned), he landed in the control unit of the federal penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. There he was convicted of killing two more prisoners, and then a guard, whom he managed to stab while being walked, in shackles, back from the shower. Back at Leavenworth, ”Terrible Tommy” was placed in a remote underground cell known as the “Silverstein Suite,” where he remained until 2005, when he was transferred to the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum in Colorado, better known as ADX.

Alan Prendergast has been reporting on ADX for more than a decade for Denver’s weekly Westword, and in 2007 he wrote the definitive piece on Tommy Silverstein, called “The Caged Life.” As he describes it:

Located two miles outside of the high-desert town of Florence, ADX is the most secure prison in the country, a hunkered-down maze of locks, alarms and electronic surveillance, designed to house gang leaders, terrorists, drug lords and other high-risk prisoners in profound isolation. Its current guest list is a who’s who of enemies of the state, including Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, shoe bomber Richard Reid, plane bomber Dandenis Muñoz Mosquera, abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph and double-agent Robert Hanssen.

When it opened in 1994, ADX was hailed as the solution to security flaws at even the highest levels of the federal prison system. Much of the justification for building the place stemmed from official outrage at the brutal murders of two guards in the control unit of the federal pen in Marion, Illinois, during a single 24-hour period in 1983. The first of those killings was committed by Thomas Silverstein, who was already facing multiple life sentences for previous bloodshed at Marion. The slaying of corrections officer Merle Clutts placed Silverstein under a “no human contact” order that’s prevailed ever since, and it gave the Bureau of Prisons the perfect rationale for building its high-tech supermax. Although he never bunked there until 2005, you could call ADX the House that Tommy Built.

Even within ADX, Silverstein is in a special restrictive unit where only one other prisoner, World Trade Center bomber Ramsey Yusuf, is housed, and where there is virtually no contact with prison staff. The man once branded “America’s most dangerous prisoner” is now described, on a web site maintained by his supporters, as its “most isolated man” (which, with the exception of terrorism suspects held under SAMs, he may well be).

Silverstein claims he is also a changed man. He has taught himself to read, write, and draw in prison, and is an accomplished artist. He says he’s learned self-control, and he hasn’t had a disciplinary writeup in 20 years. “The BOP shrinks chalk it up as me being so isolated I haven’t anyone to fight with,” he wrote to Alan Prendergast, “but they’re totally oblivious to all the petty BS that I could go off on if I chose to. I can toss a turd and cup of piss with the best of ‘em if I desired. What are they going to do, lock me up?”

But students at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, who filed a suit on his behalf in federal court in late 2007, aren’t claiming that Tommy Silverstein is now a nice guy. They’re arguing that his conditions of confinement constitute cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, and also violate his Fifth Amendment right to due process. The suit filed by Civil Rights Law Clinic at DU, which has also represented other ADX inmates, alleges that the government’s “deliberate indifference has resulted in Plaintiff suffering deprivations that cause mental harm that goes beyond the boundaries of what most human beings can psychologically tolerate.”

Read the rest here.

Drawings by Tommy Silverstein