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Why Was This Prisoner Kept Locked Away In Permanent TOTAL Isolation

Why Was This Prisoner Kept Locked Away In Permanent TOTAL Isolation

There seems to be some disagreement as to
who has spent the most time in solitary confinement, but you can find a handful of people that
did over forty years without much contact with other people. The record might well be smashed by the British
prisoner called Robert Maudsley, aka, the brain eater, or the real life Hannibal the
Cannibal, who’s now done over 40 years in solitary. The man we are going to talk about today might
be some way behind in terms of years spent kept away from the other prison population,
but there’s another reason he is called the most isolated prisoner in the world. Mr. Silverstein, who was born in 1952, has
been in prison since 1977. Back then he was convicted of armed robbery
and sent to the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, to do his time. You might be curious why armed robbery with
no deaths would warrant such a long sentence, but it’s what Tommy did inside prison that
made the difference. He has been given the epithet “America’s
Most Dangerous Prisoner”, and while the media is prone to exaggeration at times, he
certainly has been very dangerous within the confines of U.S. prisons. During his time behind bars he has been convicted
of killing four people, although one of those convictions was overturned. For that he was later given a specially designed
solitary cell, and one that he would have to spend 24 hours a day in, seven days a week. According to blog posts written not long before
we started writing this show, Silverstein has some very serious health complications,
but we are told the Bureau of Prisons will not release any information as to his condition. He was put into intensive care, although we
are told not even his family were allowed to visit him. This is how isolated this prisoner is, and
we should add that by the time you watch this show there might not even be a Tommy Silverstein. But now let’s have a look at how he got
to this point in his life. We are told that Tommy grew up in in Long
Beach, California. While pregnant with him, his mother got a
divorce, though she then married again. Silverstein claims that this second man is
his real father. He wasn’t around that long anyway, because
his mother divorced again and married a Mr. Silverstein, and this man legally adopted
the young Tommy. From what we can see he didn’t exactly come
from the wrong side of the tracks. It’s said he lived a middle class kind of
life, but was very shy and certainly not a tough kid at the start. He was bullied for various reasons, but it’s
written that because of his name other kids used to pick on him for being Jewish in a
neighborhood where they weren’t many Jewish people. It’s said he soon toughened up and fought
back, with Silverstein saying his mother didn’t suffer fools, or bullies, gladly. Most bio websites post this comment that Silverstein
once made about his childhood: “That’s how my mom was. She stood her mud. If someone came at you with a bat, you got
your bat and you both went at it.” So, it seems he was a slightly troubled kid,
but he didn’t get into serious trouble until he was 19-years old. That’s when he was arrested for armed robbery
the first time. He was sent to San Quentin and served four
years. Not long after getting out he met his father,
the real one that he says is his biological father, and also his uncle. The three were eventually arrested for three
armed robberies. It seems Silverstein being so young garnered
some sympathy, with those people saying the young man had been taken in by the older men. The judge wasn’t buying any of that lack
of parental guidance stuff though and sentenced Tommy to 15 years. He wouldn’t get out of prison again, and
might never if his present sickness gets the better of him. Even if he survives that, it’s very unlikely
he will ever get out of prison again. It’s said his releases date is officially
2095, so if he makes it to 143 he might feel the wind on his back again. While in prison in Kansas he developed a friendship
with members of the Aryan Brotherhood. In 1980, Tommy, now 28, was convicted of killing
a fellow inmate. The story goes that the inmate had turned
down an offer he couldn’t refuse. That was to be a drug mule for the white gang. This is what the TV show Crime Investigation
had to say, “As an inductee of the Aryan Brotherhood, ‘Terrible Tom’ happily committed
acts of violence which soon escalated to murder. He violently killed DC Blacks gang member
Danny Atwell.” We should say, though, that this conviction
was overturned with some of the witnesses later charged with lying in court. Silverstein was then sent to the United States
Penitentiary in Marion in Illinois, which was said to be a very tough prison. Silverstein had been given a life sentence
for that murder, but obviously that had been reversed after the perjury charge. But then he was accused of killing another
DC Blacks member, Robert Chappelle. Silverstein always denied this, and then the
Bureau of Prisons did something one could call worthy of redress. They moved the nationwide leader of the DC
Blacks, Raymond “Cadillac” Smith, to Marion while Silverstein was on trial for Chapelle’s
murder. “I tried to tell Cadillac that I didn’t
kill Chappelle, but he didn’t believe me and he bragged that he was going to kill me,”
Silverstein would later say. He added that no one tried to keep the men
apart and it was believed by him and the other prisoners that the guards wanted one of the
men to kill the other. A more cynical person would say the system
wanted one less violent inmate. The one less they eventually got was Cadillac,
who was stabbed 67 times by Silverstein. He did this with another member of the Aryan
Brotherhood called Clayton Fountain. Crime Investigation writes that Silverstein
walked up and down the wing with the dead body to show the others what might happen
if they decided to try and take him out. We are told after this he became one of the
top guys in the Aryan Brotherhood. He was also given another life sentence. So now we bring in an officer called Merle
Eugene Clutts. He was supposed to maintain order in the violent
wing of the prison, but Silverstein has always maintained that Clutts came in with a very
heavy hand. He was there to especially watch Silverstein
and the latter has said he didn’t only watch him, but regularly tormented him. That culminated with the death of Clutts. One day in 1983 he and other guards were taking
Silverstein to the shower block. On the way, with the help of another prisoner,
Silverstein got out of his handcuffs with a homemade key and stabbed the officer with
a shank (homemade weapon) he had been handed. The autopsy report revealed that Silverstein
stabbed Clutts around forty times. Silverstein has always said he did this because
Clutts had treated him particularly badly, even for prison. An investigation revealed that wasn’t the
case, but Silverstein said that investigation itself was corrupt. He was transferred to a different prison at
this time, where he murdered another guard. What followed was 23 year lockdown at Marion. Some say these two incidents were the reason
the first Supermax prison was built in the U.S. You might guess that this was the beginning
of Silverstein’s days in solitary. It wasn’t normal solitary, though, it was
what’s called total isolation. That means 24 hours a day in the cell and
the lights are on all the time. His security status was, “no human contact.” Not many prisoners get this, with Silverstein
and the British maniac we mentioned at the start of the show being the most notorious. Advocates of human rights have said such isolation
is not far from a torture technique used by the military and sometimes extremists called
whitewashing. Gradually the BOP started giving Silverstein
books and a TV, but skeptics say this only happened because the bureau realized that
in order to really punish someone in prison the prisoner can’t just have nothing. You need to give him something and then take
it away. This is the torture 101 style we see in movies,
such as Silence of the Lambs when Dr. Lecter has his books taken away. We should add that his self-contained cell
is a bit bigger than usual cells. For one thing, it has to have a shower as
he can’t go to the shower room. We have seen plenty of sketches online that
Tommy himself drew of his cell. We might also add that Silverstein didn’t
hate all guards. In a now famous case one part of a prison
was overtaken by Cuban rioters in 1987. Silverstein was let out of his cell and he
could go anywhere he liked for a short time. The Cubans held guards hostage, and so the
authorities were concerned that Silverstein would hurt or even kill them. One of those guards had known Silverstein
for a long time, but no bad came to him. It’s said he had always been kind to the
prisoner, asking him on occasions if his handcuffs were too tight. Still, Silverstein said some guards would
torment him often. In fact, you can read a blog that includes
a note written by Silverstein that must have been written just before he fell ill. There he talks about deprivation, saying,
“Dear Friends & Supporters, As I’ve noted for decades, with each new warden (administration)
that they rotate every 3 years or so, usually takes away from what we’ve got instead of
gives us more.” He adds, “they gotta flex their muscles
as cowards do with the hopeless & helpless.” In the last paragraph he talks about what
his solitary confinement is like, saying, “Like the monotone bars & walls that entomb
me, they’ve stamped out the colors of happiness that I enjoy sharing with the outside world,
enforcing a black & white existence in this colorless hole of madness.” Other blog posts written by friends of Silverstein
tell us that his writing and art have been confiscated at times, and getting anything
creative out of prison has been hard. We found quite a lot more of Tommy’s thoughts
that have been published on blogs. He writes in another post that unlike even
the worst case of confinement, he can’t even shout across a corridor. His isolation is what you might call extreme
solitude. He writes that things have happened to him
that have never been reported and he adds that inside the prison walls things go on
that seldom make it onto those prison TV shows. For him the penal system is unjust; the prison
system in general is not about rehabilitation for the most part, he believes. As for solitary, he writes, “History and
studies clearly show that solitary confinement does more harm than good, that it reveals
the idiocy and sadistic mentality of prison administrators who embrace this barbaric,
medieval practice, and that it is a crime against humanity.” The guards didn’t see it that way, with
one prison official once telling an author, “We can’t execute Silverstein, so we have
no choice but to make his life a living hell. Otherwise other inmates will kill guards too. There has to be some supreme punishment.” We should add that Silverstein does get to
visit people now and again, but never in close quarters and always with glass and a telephone. One visitor recently wrote, “He was told
there were certain things he was not allowed to discuss with me. One being the book he is writing. Tom talked about his desire to further his
education I had no idea there is no longer funding for prisoners to study.” So, what do you think about all of this? Do you blame the prison system partly for
this loss of humanity, or do you think Tommy has gotten everything he deserves? Tell us in the comments. Also, be sure to watch out other show What
The Last 24 Hours of Death Row Prisoner Look Like . Thanks for watching, and as always,
don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.

Reader Comments

  1. Don't forget people get into prison because they are criminals to begin with.
    If you make life in prison easy just because there might be some people who are wrongly accused,
    this world would be in great chaos because people would think they don't have to bear much responsibility.
    People who talk about human rights for prisoners often forget what horrible things they did in the first place
    Of course we should never let ourselves to be barbaric just because someone else did
    but there are some extreme cases that cannot be measured using conventional wisdom

  2. "did tommy get what he DESERVED"??? is that a theoretical question?

    no matter what kind of devil SATAN even

    no living organisms deserves that torment

    besides the guards tortured him what did they EXPECT? milk and cookies??

  3. "His biological father and also his uncle" sounded really bad until I looked back at the screen and realized it was two separate people 🤣.

  4. Tommy used a weapon to cause fear and porbably scar several people. He threatened to end someone's whole life just for a robbery. He's also ended multiple lives. If you wanna be treated like a human, you should act like a human. Not like a monster.

  5. My dad worked his whole life at US BOP (bureau of prisons). Prison is for containment – keeping the criminals out of society. He mostly worked in medium security prisons.

  6. to take a life frivolously is a tragedy. Can't enjoy life outside? try not being able to have life, and never be able to fulfil your dreams

  7. I'd agree with everything he got
    He deserved it
    Except not letting him express himself
    That's a big no no for me

  8. Considering what we have been through with white supremacists in recent times, Christchurch, El Paso, he should have been executed. Let's hope Patrick Crusius gets into that cell.

  9. No man for whatever they have done should ever just be tortured like that. I'd rather be banished from America than be imprisioned.

  10. I have always believed that people in prison deserve some level of dignity. I'm not saying let them all out, but humiliating them is so unnecessary, especially bc a lot of them adapt to their environment.

  11. I mean what he did was terrible and unforgivable but nobody should ever go through something like that to me it’s a crime against humanity and even though he shouldn’t be freed he has to have something

  12. Like Dillinger and baby face Nelson, you throw people into prison, they come out very different, to quote The Shawshank Redemption: " On the outside I was an innocent man, I had to come to prison to become a crook."

  13. Tomy just has a bad past and its not his fault. When people insult him he gets triggered easily and thats why he wanted to use violence too but instaed pf the bad guys getting punished he got punished. The Government is trying to make the world perfect but perfect means sadness, control, etc. the point is the Government is making prisoners miserable and soon it might be us.

  14. When the emancipation proclamation went out it banned slavery with the exeption of prisoners so police and judges were ordered to convict thousands of innocent people and parole them to the plantations and factory's where they could be kept as slaves with no constitutional protections

  15. Actually, I find solitary confinement appropriate here because he was killing other prisoners with his first arrest, so I find it appropriate because I'd be flippin afraid of him if I was a guard.

    However, I think he'd should get to keep his books and paper, because if he already doesn't get to meet anyone, the writing and reading is kinda a self therapy

  16. A very, very small group of people (if you can even call them people) deserve to die.

    Silverstein was one of those people.

  17. I think it he brought it on himself when he provided that Dead black dudes corpse up and down the prison Wing saying this is what happens if you mess with me

  18. Prisons should be that you’re stuck forced to socialize with others for your sentence and then you’re free and rehabilitated instead of possibly insane due to the bad treatment for years

  19. Do a podcast!!! You would have some really really interesting stories ik you tell them in the video but sometimes it's nice to listen while you are working or driving.

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