Thomas Silverstein gone into the commonwealth prison mechanism in 1975 after ~ he was convicted of three financial institution robberies the he pulled with his father and his uncle.

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He to be 19 year old.

Three year later, he to be convicted that murdering one inmate who had run afoul of the Aryan Brotherhood, the many feared white gang in prison. Silverstein was determined as a member that the AB, convicted, and also sent to the commonwealth prison in Marion, Illinois, the harshest in the country at the time. A judge later overturned this conviction after ruling that the witnesses against Silverstein, which contained a prison guard, were no believable.

His ruling came as well late, however. By then, Silverstein had actually been convicted of a second prison murder — this time the strangulation that a black prison gang member.

Another murder soon followed. It associated Raymond “Cadillac” Smith, the nationwide leader of a black prison corridor who had sworn come avenge his other gang member’s death. Prison records present that smith made several attempts to murder Silverstein, yet jail officials retained the two men in cell close to each other.

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Silverstein and another inmate, Clay Fountain, damaged out the an practice area and also caught Smith together he to be leaving a shower area. They stabbed him 67 times and also then dragged his human body up-and-down the jail tier therefore that various other prisoners, quiet locked in your cells, could see the bloody corpse.

Officer Merle Eugene Clutts to be assigned to help bring order to the cellblock wherein Silverstein and also Fountain to be housed. Silverstein insurance claims Clutts instantly began harassing him, but an examination by the commonwealth Bureau of Prisons and also FBI would later clear Clutts of any wrongdoing.

Silverstein would insurance claim those two probes to be whitewashes.

Regardless, Silverstein became obsessed through Clutts and spent month plotting his murder.

On October 22, 1983, with the help of other inmates, Silverstein slipped turn off his handcuffs while he was being resulted in a shower. Brandishing a home make “shank” — knife — Silverstein broke cost-free from the two guards escorting him and also attacked Clutts, that was no carrying any weapons.

An autopsy later showed Clutts had actually been stabbed fourty times.

Thomas Silverstein has actually been locked under the tightest conditions in the federal Bureau that Prisons (BOP) in full isolation due to the fact that he murdered a correctional officer in 1983. The lamp are preserved on 24 hrs a work in his cell.

At first, the BOP stripped him come his boxer shorts and did not let him have actually anything in his cell. While protection cameras were being installed, 2 guards sat exterior his cell and watched him round the clock. That was retained under these conditions for 6 months.

The BOP then started giving Silverstein extr privileges, such as a television set and illustration materials. Part of the reason was due to the fact that the BOP realized the it is nearly impossible to regulate an inmate uneven you have actually something come take away from him together punishment.

Silverstein spends much of his work drawing. He is completely self-taught.

The BOP has refused to permit him to go into his job-related in prison funded art shows at Leavenworth whereby convicts have the right to sell their job-related to the public. That does not want Silverstein to profit from his notoriety.

After I included one of his drawings in The hot House, I began receiving inquiry from reader to see much more of his work. I am posting number of of his drawings here. They are not for sale. You likewise should be mindful that his views are specifically that — his views. Silverstein said me the if I ever wished to know him, I needed to understand his art since that is just how he spoke from his heart.

Hence his drawings:

The Silverstein Suite


The “Silverstein Suite” — developed just because that him — is situated at the end of the Special real estate Unit (SHU), a structure isolated indigenous the main prison. Silverstein to be moved right here in 1989 indigenous his basement dungeon, that is described in The warm House.

The SHU is a “prison inside a prison” and also is commonly call “the hole.” It’s whereby convicts are sent for punishment.

Silverstein is retained in his cabinet twenty-three hours per day. At specific times, an electronic door is opened up for one hour, for this reason he can step right into the exterior recreation area or right into an at home recreation cage. That is not enabled into the hallway in this drawing. The is supplied by officers when they must microwave his meals or examine on that face-to-face.

There is a visiting room attached come the at home recreation cage, but because the office of Prisons doesn’t permit him visitors, it has actually not to be used. These three rooms — his cell and also the two recreation cages — room his entire world. Since he is under consistent surveillance, the just time the he watch other humans is once food is carried to his cell.

He has actually been maintained under “no person contact” conditions since 1983.

Inside the Silverstein Suite


This is the view that Silverstein sees when he sits at the earlier of his cell.


This is the watch from the front of the cell, looking back.


This is the watch from the practice bike in the indoor recreation room. In ~ one point, Silverstein did two thousands sit-ups and one thousand push ups every day to remain fit. That did castle in teams of one hundred.

Thomas Silverstein’s Self-Portraits


Silverstein stand in his outside recreation cage. The ceiling is open up to the sky but is covered by stole bars.


Because that his reputation, Silverstein is surrounding by a minimum that eight officers whenever that is eliminated from his cell. One more officer video clip tapes the move in situation there is a scuffle. The video tape is taken to prove that Silverstein’s civil rights were no violated.


The federal government reviews Silverstein’s isolated standing every six months. So far, it has actually seen no reason to relocate him into a much more normal environment where he could connect with other inmates. That is taken into consideration in sound mental problem despite his lengthy term segregation and also lack the visitors.

Once a month, a jail psychologist visits Silverstein to ask how he is doing. If he shows anger or complains about his conditions, then the psychologist knows that he is “mentally stable” since that reaction is taken into consideration a common one.


A self-portrait that Silverstein attracted to a greater level the realism.

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Silverstein’s prison Guard Cartoons

One that the topics Silverstein continuously drew were the jail guards that watched over him. Together you would certainly expect, his illustrations are much less than favorable the the guards.