Thomas Silverstein – Official Website

Solitary Survivor

A Very Important Message from the Webmaster 5.11.2019

14 Comments

Tom’s brother Morris just posted (8:00 p.m. Eastern time) on Facebook that Tom has passed away.

I have no further details to provide, but I wanted to share this sad news with people who were concerned about Tom’s condition. If anyone has more news, please share it here.

I can say this: I will maintain this website as both a memorial to Tom and as a research tool for anyone interested in his long struggle with the Bureau of Prisons.

I also urge anyone with any memory of Tom to share it here. I will write more later, but right now I just want to grieve.

Richard Giles

14 thoughts on “A Very Important Message from the Webmaster 5.11.2019

  1. Rest in Peace Tommy. The plight is over.
    No one can imagine what you went through.
    My condolences to all the people strong enough to stay with you till the end. Your family, the loved ones, and all the friends.
    May your future paths be covered with silk.

    • Thanks for the kind thoughts to those feeling the keen loss of Tom.

      • It was just yesterday that I read about Toms passing. We used to correspond for a couple of years. He once sent a selfmade friendship bracelet that is next to me now. My feelings are with all the people who love and miss him.

  2. Friends:

    I once sent Tommy Silverstein a copy of ” The Yoga Sutras of Patanjalis ” by MSI in both Sanskrit and English.

    I was hoping Tommy could use the solitary confinement like a Yogic Guru uses a cave to Meditate and practice Yogic exercise. To connect to what Patanjalis called ” The Ascendant ” and the eight stages of consciousness beyond the waking state.

    Thinking Allowed…..

    Arthur Gerard Michael Baron von Boennighausen

  3. I didn’t know the man but I read his answer to a negative comment left on his old site in which he wrote something like this “In all the years since the murders in Marion no one has ever asked what these men were like. ”

    I took it as a challenge and went on line to research these men.

    I found a piece here and a piece there and put it all down on paper.

    Tom thanked me and said he owed me but he didn’t owe me shit.

    I told him that I realized our lives could have been switched I could have found myself in his shoes and he in mine. You see we are just about the same age lived near each other and our lives began much the same. No one who wasn’t in the California penal system in the late sixties could ever fully understand the stress behind those walls.

    Edward Bunker wrote about it in a Harper’s article titled “War Behind Walls” Read it. Also read “The Rise and Fall of California’s Radical Prison Movement” I quote both in my summary of Tom’s case as well as Earley’s Hot House below:

    “Thomas Edward Silverstein was born in Long Beach, Calif., on February 4th 1952, and raised in a home that he describes as “an angry and violent place.”

    On page 143 of Pete Earley’s book, The Hot House, Silverstein’s mother is described as:

    “Vivacious and tough, Virginia Silverstein herself had served time in prison for robbery as a teenager. “

    His mother hit the kids with anything she could get her hands on, Silverstein said. Once, after he was beaten up by another boy, she told Silverstein that if he didn’t stand up for himself the next time, she would take a belt to him.

    So Silverstein began to fight back. And at the age of 15 this new attitude got him into a fist fight with a police officer and he was sent to the California Youth Authority. There his mother’s lessons were only reinforced.

    Toms experience in the CYA is summed up by him on Page 144 of The Hot House:

    “Anyone not willing to fight was abused.”

    In 1971 a nineteen year old Silverstein entered San Quentin in the middle of what Edward Bunker called a “War Behind Walls” in his 1972 Harpers Magazine article.

    Here are two excerpts from his memoir “Education of a Felon” Chapter 14, “Race War”:

    Page 266 “…they stabbed every white on the tier, all of whom wore white jumpsuits, for they had just gotten off bus and had no idea they would be attacked for being white. One died, and one vaulted the railing to avoid the stabbing blades broke both his ankles on the concrete below….
    Page 287 “Men without friends, those trying to quietly serve a term and get out, were in the worst predicament. They had no allies.”

    On page 144 Earley writes about this period of time in Silverstein’s life:

    “It was there, the bureau noted, that he first began associating with members of the Aryan Brotherhood. “

    Released four years later he is rearrested shortly thereafter for armed robbery along with his two crime partners, his cousin and his own father.

    “I was 23 when I was sentenced to 15 years for that robbery,” Silverstein wrote in his declaration. “My share of the proceeds was a few hundred dollars. My life on the outside was over forever.”
    Silverstein was sent to the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., where he said life was divided along racial lines, and “newcomers had to be careful not to show any weakness.”
    For his own safety, Silverstein felt he had to align with a group.

    According to “prosecutors”, he chose the Aryan Brotherhood.

    In his 2011 declaration to the Federal Court of appeals, Silverstein denies committing two of the four murders attributed to him. (Line 43 and 49)

    1980: In reference to the first of the four murders, the one in Leavenworth, it has previously been reported that:

    1985: “On appeal a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit said it was appalled by the quagmire of conflicting testimony and recanted statements…The judges ordered federal prosecutors to either dismiss the murder charge against Silverstein or conduct a new trail.” Reference: U.S. v Silverstein, 737 F. 2d 864 (10th Cir. 1984).

    There was no retrial.

    The environment at the Federal prison at Marion Illinois, when Silverstein arrived there is described below: (Sometime between 1980 and 1981)

    Page 229 The Hot House by Pete Earley:

    “Between January 1980 and October 1983, there were more serious disturbances at Marion than at any other prison, including fourteen escape attempts, ten group uprisings, fifty-eight serious inmate-on-inmate assaults, thirty-three attacks on staff, and nine murders.”

    Line 46 of his declaration: “There was significant conflict between staff and prisoners at Marion.”
    Line 48: I feared attacks on my life at all times from both prisoners and staff.
    Then on lines 49-59 Silverstein gives his own account for the three murders he has been convicted of. (Recall he admits to just two of the three.)

    The following information was extracted from the court record:
    On November 22, 1981, at 7:15 p.m. guards discovered the body of Robert Marvin Chappelle a member of the D.C. Blacks prison gang. “

    Silverstein was brought to trial for the murder and pleaded not guilty.

    During the trial, inmate Norman Matthews’s testimony seemed to confirm Silverstein’s innocence.
    When called to the stand to testify Norman Matthews… was asked whether he could remember November 22, 1981, he replied, “It was the day I killed Chappelle.”
    Without this confession Silverstein was found guilty.

    The third murder is not denied by Silverstein but was only committed after Raymond “Cadillac” Smith the national leader of the D.C. Blacks prison gang had failed in two documented attempts to kill Silverstein.

    Smith had been convicted for armed kidnapping, armed robbery, extortion, and assault with a dangerous weapon. Smith was found guilty on all counts, and sentenced to an effective term of 6-18 years.

    Fellow prisoner, ex-Black Panther Eddie G. Griffin was in Marion for bank robbery, kidnapping, and commandeering a police squad car- at age 26 at the time.

    Griffin said of Cadillac “we both trained for combat in the same prison cage.”

    Keep in mind while reading the following story, written by Griffin, that Robert Marvin Chappelle was also a convicted killer and the best friend of Smith.

    Whether or not there is any direct connection between Chappelle and the character Casper found in this story, is irrelevant, because the story illustrates the threat that this particular group of inmates had posed on Silverstein life.

    Excerpts:

    “They called him Casper, because he had killed 10 men in Atlanta Federal Prison.

    Nobody ever saw him. He left no evidence, other than the slit throat of his victims. Over a period of years, during the 1970s, the FBI never caught him. That is how he got the nickname Casper, the Unfriendly Ghost.

    Strange that we would become friends and he would become one of my trainers… a man with a claw for a hand, a convicted murderer.

    He had a killer’s instinct and the thirst for it.

    My counter-part was Raymond Smith-el, a Moorish Science of America gladiator, known as the Sword of Justice, street named “Cadillac”.

    Cadillac laughed. He always laughed in the face of his enemies. And, there were times when his psychotic laughter caused even me to quiver. To hear him laugh was not good, not good at all for somebody.

    And, on a good day, his signature battle cry would rattle the walls and shake all the prison cages. No wonder, men in prison feared him, both inmate and guard.

    It was said of the Moors in prison that they could kill a man, stash the weapons where no one on earth could find them, wash their clothes and dry them, before prison officials could ever discover the body.”

    (Drew Ali, founded the Moorish Science Temple in Newark, N.J. in 1931 a forerunner of the Nation of Islam.

    Today three fourths of the Temple’s congregations are inside prisons.

    Ali claimed that “all blacks are the original inhabitants of the earth and the progenitors of all nonwhite nations…the world’s superior race…in contrast whites, he claimed, were… a race of inferior devils.”)

    “The Hot House” page 105:

    “The black inmates were from Washington D.C., and were known simply as “D.C. Blacks.” They were one of the most difficult groups at Leavenworth for guards to control…. D.C. Blacks were especially notorious as “locker-knockers”–petty thieves who ransacked the personal lockers of other inmates–and for pressuring new inmates for sex.”
    Excerpts from Pete Early’s, book “Hot House”.

    “I tried to tell Cadillac that I didn’t kill Chappelle, but he didn’t believe me and bragged that he was going to kill me,”

    Silverstein recalled. “Everyone knew what was going on and no one did anything to keep us apart. The guards wanted one of us to kill the other.”

    Enter Officer Merle Clutts the fourth victim.

    Pete Earley wrote in The Hot House:

    Page 393: Referring to Clutts and Silverstein, Ralph Seever, a legendary lieutenant… explained, “you never want, the relationship to get personal.” He warned.

    Whenever an inmate believes for some reason that the natural conflict between convicts and officers is personal, his ego is at stake, and in a penitentiary, image is a thousand times more important than reality.”

    And on the day of his trial Silverstein’s lawyer requested that the judge appoint a psychiatrist. The judge refused. Silverstein had wanted the psychiatrist to testify about the possible effects of Clutts’s harassment on his psyche.

    What would have been the verdict if someone like Harvard psychiatrist Stuart Grassian had been allowed to testify about these affects?

    Page 233 The Hot House:

    “To this day, Silverstein claims that Clutts set out to break him by harassing him in a dozen petty ways that most guards learn early in their careers.”

    Officer Clutts also knew there were possible consequences of this harassment for he had learned this lesson the hard way early into his career in an event that foretold his own demise.

    On January 26, 1969, Officer Merle E. Clutts found the body of his superior, Senior Officer Vern M. Jarvis, in a utility closet. Jarvis had been stabbed 26 times.

    The murder of Jarvis was committed by James K. Marshall also a convicted bank robber with a 25 year sentence. The motive, Officer Jarvis had confiscated Marshall’s candy, fruit and magazines when he placed him in segregation.

    In an audio recording of an interview conducted by Earley, Silverstein explains his own motives:
    16:25 Silverstein: I think he was just selling me wolf tickets. But he didn’t know I was taking him serious.

    AS MANY KILLINGS THAT I HAVE SEEN WHEN SOMEONE SAYS HE IS GOING TO KILL YOU, YOU CAN’T SIT BACK AND SAY AWE IT AIN’T NOTHING AND DO NOTHING.

    When somebody has gone that far especially when you’re telling him you don’t want no trouble why don’t you get off my case.

    You know, I PLEADED WITH THAT GUY…

    On Line 58 of his declaration Silverstein wrote “After I killed Smith, I lived in constant fear of reprisals. It was in this frame of mind, and believing I was in a life-threatening situation, that on October 22, 1983, I killed Officer Clutts.”

    Silverstein later testified that he had killed Clutts because the guard was planning to let other inmates out of their cells to kill him.

    (Unbelievable you say? Then why was Smith, a known close associate of Chappelle’s, moved from another institution and placed near Silverstein’s cell, then allowed to remain there even after making two documented attempts on Silverstein’s life? )

    Indeed the lapse in security that allowed all these murders to take place, in what was the most secure facility in the bureau conjures up conspiracy theories.

    Prison can be described as a cruel gauntlet lined with rouge guards on one side and predatory inmates on the other with inmates forced to do their time in the restricted space in the middle.

    These two opposing forces, sometimes knowingly and at other times unknowingly, collude together to mete out societies punishment. This is the stark reality of prison life

    Like Marshall before him, Silverstein received a life sentence.
    This is where the similarities between the two cases end.

    On March 29, 1972 Marshall was transferred to Oregon Department of Corrections and was later paroled from his federal sentence in 1982.

    However Silverstein’s life sentence came with a “no human contact” order attached to it and with no achievable release date therefore he will die in prison.

    Silverstein wrote an apology to the world on Line 59 of his declaration:

    “Even writing this declaration, I feel my words of regret are inadequate to explain the remorse I feel….There is no justification for my actions.” (Last part from Line 11)

    But there is logic in Silverstein’s actions, even if only understandable by others that have been trapped like tethered animals in a slaughterhouse!

    • Exactly tank for him

      • Exactly tanks for him

      • Sorry for the mistakes this is émotion.
        Thanks for him.
        I wish you the paradise Tommy as usual.
        Thank you for your trust.
        Que Dieu prenne soin de toi.
        Je te souhaite une haute retraite avec le juste qui es le Seigneur. Tu nous manqueras en France. Enfin tu es libre!Tu me manqueras.The sun you are Tommy.Soleil et lux perpetua pour toujours. 🌟🌞🌟

  4. Here’s the “silver” lining….. He don’t have to worry about the BOP anymore.

    Rot in Hell.

    • Tom insisted that all postings–whatever the sentiment–be allowed on his site. Were he alive he would no doubt graciously respond to your posting. Human beings have a tremendous capacity to change in all directions, and I sincerely believe Tom had changed much for the better.

  5. I wish it wasn’t that the night I first learned about him was the same day he died.

    What an incredible man to keep the light on for so long

    Rest in peace brother

    If anyone has artwork made by Thomas please let me know.

    withybriar@yahoo.co.uk

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am glad you learned of Tom’s predicament even if so late. I can tell you that Tom did not know the whereabouts of all his artwork and that he requested that any left in his cell at the time of his death be destroyed. Perhaps someone reading your message will respond with further information.

  6. It couldn’t be more fitting he died at the end of Correctional Workers week, especially after he was responsible for the killing of one. Lights out, bitch!

  7. Rest in peace tommy, I wished I had met you in life my sorrow goes tomhis close family and in particular reene. Please anybody interested in tommy he will have a book comming out via author Pete earley

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