The Most Isolated Man In America

“In the ice of solitude, man becomes most inexorably a question to himself.” —Martin Buber

In a Nutshell

Locked away in federal supermax prison, Aryan Brotherhood member Thomas Silverstein has been held in solitary confinement for 30 years. Known for murdering fellow inmates, he was very carefully monitored, but in 1983, he managed to kill a corrections officer. Since then, he has passed barely a word with another human being.

The Whole Bushel

Described by a former warden as “a clean version of Hell,” The United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX Florence) is likely the most secure prison in the world. Located in the foothills of Colorado, it is sometimes referred to as “the Alcatraz of the Rockies.” Approximately 490 of the most savage and infamous inmates in the world make their home there, including al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui, “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, and Thomas Silverstein—the most isolated man in the American prison system.

Now his early sixties, Silverstein resembles someone’s kindly old grandfather, but he is one of the planet’s most dangerous men, known for cunning ruthlessness. Originally sentenced to 15 years in USP Leavenworth for armed robbery in 1977, Silverstein quickly fell in with the Aryan Brotherhood. In 1980, he killed inmate Danny Atwell, who refused to mule heroin for the Brotherhood, and was transferred to the high-security facility at USP Marion.

While incarcerated at Marion, he made promptly made enemies, and in 1981, he and another inmate were accused of killing D.C. Blacks prison–gang member Robert Chappelle. Despite proclaiming his innocence, he was targeted for murder by Raymond “Cadillac” Smith, the leader of the D.C. Blacks. Silverstein got to him first. After this, he was kept under strict watch, but in 1983, he managed to stab Corrections Officer Merle Clutts to death, allegedly as revenge for being taunted by the guard. Hours later, Silverstein’s friend Clayton Fountain also stabbed an officer to death.

These events actually inspired the building of ADX Florence. Silverstein is kept there under “no human contact” status in a specially designed cell, where he will most likely spend the rest of his life. He holds the distinction of spending the longest time in solitary confinement of any American inmate—30 years and counting. Claiming that “no human contact” status is a form of torture for the murder of Clutts, Silverstein filed suit against the prison. In 2011, a judge threw out Silverstein’s claims.

Thomas Silverstein is eligible for parole on November 2, 2095.

Show Me The Proof

Thomas E. Silverstein
America’s Most Isolated Federal Prisoner Describes 10,220 Days in Extreme Solitary Confinement
Supermax: A Clean Version Of Hell

  • rhijulbec

    There is a way to end this person’s agony. Kill the bastard! That will end his ”suffering.” Shoot…a cold blooded killer with no regard for human life and I read about ”poor him”, in the proof article? He doesn’t want to live this way? Well the guard he killed didn’t want to be dead either, so too bad. Crime and Time…

  • TheUnknownTruth

    The Judicial System as a whole will never be fixed but I agree with rhijulbec why waste taxes on someone locked in a box just wasting away food and shelter that isnt even interacting with anyone. They need to do it Breaking Bad style pay his brotherhood to wack him. Open up his food slot dump the cleaning bottle of gasoline and toss in a match and let him burn in his own cell. (btw breaking bad returns soon great show watch it on Netflix)

    • eve

      “Turns out, it is cheaper to imprison killers for life than to execute them”

      Morals are one thing, but money-wise it seems locking him up is cheaper.

      • inconspicuous detective

        because they sit on death row for years. kill them fast, it will be CHEAPER. besides, i have a hard time being convinced that it’s expensive to kill someone off as opposed to keeping them alive without them paying.

        • It isn’t the killing itself that’s so expensive, it’s the appeals, which are mandated (and ought to be). Appeals require various lawyers on both sides to be paid, researchers on both sides, judges, court staffers, the extra jailers who have accompany the prisoner between jail and court and guard him while there, the judges, the judges staffs, etc. etc. etc.
          If the U.S. is going to maintain a death penalty, then we have to make as damn sure as possible that we aren’t executing an innocent man. If it costs the US taxpayer some extra in taxes to maintain this system, well, that’s what they keep voting for. Either eliminate the death penalty, or quit bitching about the cost of properly implementing it.

          • inconspicuous detective

            then i’d pay my share in taxes. it’s fair enough to me, these people have given up their right to live.

  • Hillyard

    How did this guy not end up on death row? Instead of just putting him out of our misery the taxpayers have to pay for his room and board. Strap his ass to a gurney, insert needle, say goodbye asshole and be done with it.

    • Phil_42

      I believe that would be a little too easy. At least this way he is truly being punished.

      • jfauser

        Well he obviously isn’t learning anything…

        • philipmarie

          That’s his problem but no matter how much he kicks and whines, he’s still an isolated twat.

      • resto776

        Locking someone in a cage and waiting for them to die is pointless and
        isn’t a moral high-road. Prison stops being “punishment” once it’s a
        life sentence. At that point you should just kill them. Sounds harsh,
        but it really doesn’t make any sense to feed someone three square meals a
        day and wait for them to die on their own. If God is omnipotent, then He would know whose hearts would change and which ones wouldn’t. The worst of the worst and obviously guilty (ideally confessed) don’t need a lifetime of punishment to think about what they’ve done. That’s cruel and expensive and it’s not up to us to provide that. They just need to be removed from the Earth as an evolutionary setback.

      • anonymouse72

        But he’ll never get out. If he learns from it, it will still have absolutely no effect.

    • Exiled Phoenix

      Why don’t we use these people for human experimentation? We own them for life anyway, may as well get some use out of them.

    • Adeel

      His current position borders torture doesn’t it? Just execute the man and he, the society, authorities and the tax payers will be free.

  • inconspicuous detective

    death penalty. trial, one month’s grace period where an appeal is done, carry out the execution in a week following the appeal’s failure.

  • Lemmy

    Ironic that the most isolated person has his own website. Should have just shot him years back.

  • wunderdawg192

    This is sad and sick. This man should be given death. How is torturing a human doing anyone any good? It’s just making him worse. What’s going to happen if by some random fluke he does find his way out of there?

    I pronounce misery over the decision makers in this mans life until they stop this insane torture.

  • cire

    wow, if he survives for another 82 more years, he’ll gonna enjoy his parole. 😀

  • Max Tandan

    Why not follow China’s example, a lone shot in the head in full view of the public or arena?

    • Novakinify

      Because that makes you less human and no different than him. Very simple…

      • LuvsHorror

        It would actually be very human.

      • Adeel

        and keeping the man under no-human contact status for 30 years and more to go makes you very human?
        In this case, putting him out of his misery is good for everyone.

      • Max Tandan

        A criminal, killer is inhuman

  • Yes, the man should be left in prison for life and kept away from all other humans, but no, he should not be kept in a cell wherein he can barely move, breath or tell whether it’s day or night. The conditions are torturous and extreme. Give the man an hour per day outside to do something. Let him see other people, even if he’s not allowed physical contact or communication. Give him books, but no Internet. Give him a task to complete, to keep him active and offset some of the costs of his incarceration, but don’t treat him worse than we would treat an animal. There are alternatives that don’t involve the death penalty.

    • Stillstrugglingattimes

      You are correct sir, we should not treat him any worse than we would treat an animal.. which is exactly what he is and was long before he entered the correctional system. I think we should do to him exactly what we would do with an animal. We would put the animal down, just as we should with him.

      • The majority of the world does not agree with the death penalty. It has also been proven not to be an effective deterrent of crime. If even one person is wrongly convicted and summarily executed, it’s too many.

        • Stillstrugglingattimes

          Frankly, Sir, I could not care less what the rest of the world says, thinks, does, or feels about capitol punishment, as none of them must carry the cost and burden of sheltering this animal for the rest of its natural life. Furthermore, I do not care about statistics regarding the effectiveness of capitol punishment as they are as-equally flawed as your presumption that they are not. We do not know as a society whether capitol punishment works or does not work since it has never been implemented in earnest. What we do know for certain is that someone who has been punished capitolly will never, ever, ever hurt another person again, innocent or otherwise. That much cannot be disputed by you or anyone else. Also, I do not care if capitol punishment is an effective punishment or not because I am all in on the premise that it is a terrific method of bringing a victimized, heartbroken, and tormented families closure and peace of mind. Besides, it makes me feel good to know that society at large has delivered a certain amount of revenge on the animal.

          As far as your argument regarding the execution of innocent people, I would say this is your only argument with legs. However, innocent people die or are killed every single day by the tens of thousands via car accidents, drug overdose, disease, starvation, war, old age, heart attack, stroke, falls, trips, slips, electrocution, blunt force trauma, suicide, gunshot wounds, stabbings, poisoning, hit and run, beheading, burns, etc, etc, etc. So where is your argument for those innocent people? Why aren’t you standing up on your soap box opining for their rights? Anyway, in today’s world, with all of our technologies and vast array of different sciences at hand, the likelihood of an innocent person being convicted and sentenced to death is so slim that I am willing to take the chance and play the odds.

          • Not every victim’s family would agree with you and that also weakens the argument. I’m not sure what the numbers say about this, but since you can find statistics to support just about any argument, I’m also not that interested. My wife and I lost our infant son to a case of gross malpractice by a doctor and while the hurt is still very fresh many years later, we do not wish the man dead, only that he never again be allowed to practice medicine. While this is not quite the same as our son having suffered and died at the hands of a brutal killer, I doubt that our stance would change.

            As I have said though, the system is clearly broken. There are alternatives, such as having the prisoner offset the cost of their imprisonment. It’s not a perfect system, but systematically engaging in physical and psychological abuse for decades is hardly a reasonable solution, which is more the argument at issue here than whether or not the death penalty is warranted. It brings us, as a society down to the lowest common denominator, but then again, so do war and the death penalty. I’m not naive enough to believe that man will ever reach some form of Utopian environment, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to strive to do so.

          • Stillstrugglingattimes

            I’m very sorry you lost your son. I cannot imagine how that would feel. Let’s just agree to disagree on the death penalty issue. As I age, perhaps my stance on the matter will soften just as it has on an entire bevy of other issues. I absolutely respect your stance and will always be reminded of your thoughts when confronted with the topic from here on out, I assure you. My best to you and yours, Sir.

          • Agreed and thank you for the kind thoughts.

  • Honus

    I worked 3 years at Florence ADX as an Officer. Silverstein is watched 24 hours a day by a camera in his cell and a staff member outside his door. The ADX is set up so that inmates have a small, private recreation area outside of each of their cells so as to have very little contact with one another. It’s true Silverstein has no visits or outside contact other then his attorney. It’s really incredible to think how truly isolated he is but his crimes warrant this. Silverstein kills with no remorse as his past crimes have shown. I’m sure being isolated for so long will have an effect on your well being but this man was not wired right since birth.

    • Ashleigh Carner

      I totally agree. My dad was a guard at marion and says this man was evil incarnate.

    • Mom424

      I agree; sometimes you deserve cruel punishment—you’ve earned it. The only way to keep others safe is to be cruel to this guy? Then too bad for that guy.
      Just because I don’t believe in the death penalty, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in punishment.

      • Adeel

        You don’t believe in death penalty but torture of this degree is okay? Death penalty would be more humane. It will set him, authorities and the tax payers free.

    • Your input interests me here more than any other, since you have the closest to direct experience in this matter. You said “The ADX is set up so that inmate3s have a small, private recreation area
      outside of each of their cells so as to have very little contact with
      one another.”

      Does this mean that the related link describing his permanent habitation of a cell in which he can reach both walls with outstretched arms is an exaggeration? Doe he in fact, get to “stretch his legs” in a small common area for some portion of the day?

  • gillybean

    I don’t understand, what is the point of keeping this creature alive? He’s never going to live long enough to see parole. Maybe it’s an experiment to see how long he’ll last or something.

    • UniqueWisdomHolder

      To make him regret even of what all he have done, at some point in that prison, surely he will ask God for forgiveness and that’s what’s important, to give him a chance to learn his mistakes even just before dying, after all he is still human.

      • gillybean

        Not religious so the god stuff means nothing to me. As for calling him human? I don’t believe that anybody is born a fully paid up member of the human race. I think people should be judged by the actions they have taken and that man has already permanently excluded himself.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    Make his suffering worse, put a live feed from his cell online and let the people decide how to Fuck with him non stop until he kills himself.

  • Ashleigh Carner

    My dad was a guard at marion when all this stuff went down. He says Silverstein was the only prisoner that he was scared of. The gusrds were nice family men. Just a terrible shame.

    • Mike m

      I bet your father had interesting stories. I served 30 in LE. Retired Aug 2010.

  • czxzxzccxzxzczx

    hardly cunning if he fell for the AN bullshit, murdered someone for them when he was only on a fifteen year bit and murdered a guard.

    You call that retarded, not cunning.

  • asianchick

    2095?? What’s the point? He’ll be long gone by that time

    • anonymouse72

      He’ll cross his fingers and hope to livvvee…

  • asianchick

    The guard was kind of asking for it though. You’d be smart enough not to taunt someone so dangerous.

  • anonymouse72

    Mike Delvin is on writing rage o,o

  • Exiled Phoenix

    Every prisoner should be dealt like this. No human contact, no outside lighting and two meals a day at random times so they never know what time it is!! except murderers and child molesters, they just need to be executed so they can never be a threat again.

    • hrg2

      That is a good idea. Break down petty criminals and make them psychotic so that when they are released they start killing without remorse and have no fear of death. No one would want to go back to that but they will be broken and crazy. They will commit crimes but they will refuse to go to prison and fight to the death, taking out who ever they need to in an attempt to escape. The same will apply to people who have not been there yet. Your idea will only create dead cops. It will make crime worse because you are going to die anyway so why not go all the way and kill to keep witnesses from talking. If cornered kill as many cops as possible in an attempt to get away or die trying. You are a moron.

      • Exiled Phoenix

        let me clarify this a bit. I don’t mean people that have short sentences. I mean repeat offenders doing life you numbnut. Besides cops are kind of imputent anyway, a few dead ones will open up more jobs for others.

        • hrg2

          Poor argument for a poor idea.

          • Exiled Phoenix

            Or use them for human experiments. sounds like something we could use these animals for.

    • Valkyrie

      Nah child molesters and murderers should get 5 minutes locked in a room alone with the family members and loved ones of the child or person that they harmed…just 5 minutes. Personally all I would need is one minute with ‘him’ and a pair of pliers,

  • Jack Shen

    this guy is dangerous and becoming more psychotic with time. How much are we American’s paying to house this guy? I’ve read that 1 prisoner is about $100,000 a year to house. He’s not gonna reform, it’s like lost nuke, we just gonna let it sit or are we gonna recover and disarm it?

    I think the best would be to put him to death, this would be in everyone’s best interest.

  • Michael Neiber

    Prison is a huge business. A lot of the prisons are privately owned corporations. The more prisoners, the more money

  • gerwg

    Thomas Silverstein



    Also why is there another white hate post?

    why dont u talk about all the black on white crime?


    • Jack Shen

      I just noticed that…doh!
      Silverstein ….. self hater I guess he is

  • Enumscratch

    I do not care about humane treatment for monsters like this. I do not believe in being the bigger person. I absolutely believe in torturing these people. The same with rapists, pedophiles, and serial killers. They have no remorse, so why should -we- care about -their- suffering? They are the prime subjects for human experimentation to solve the numerous diseases we have in today’s society. Make something good come out of the terrible things they have done. That is justice. Death is too easy, as is life in prison. Make the pigs suffer.

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