Supermax Inmate Sues Over Long “Sick Trip” In Isolation


Denver Post columnist Susan Greene tells the story of Tommy Silverstein, a convicted bank robber who is locked in the federal Supermax in Florence until 2095 for killing two fellow inmates and fatally stabbing a guard. The former member of the Aryan Brotherhood, 57, has has lived behind bars since age 20. He spent 26 years under a “no human contact order.”

Silverstein transferred in 2005 to a 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 highest U.S. security prison. “A sick trip,” is how he describes conditions about which he’s suing the Bureau of Prisons for cruel and unusual punishment. There are good reasons why prisons use isolation, which prevents violence and provides a disincentive for inmates to kill guards. But there are better reasons against it, Greene says, one of which is it may amount to legalized torture.

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