The Tale Of Thomas Silverstein And The Range 13 Prison Cell

Image credit: Thomas Silverstein prison artwork “Solitary Confinement”

(PCM) A convict by the name of Thomas Silverstein entered the prison system back in 1975 when he was charged for his role in three bank robberies along with his father and uncle. Silverstein was only 19 years old at the time of the crime.

After serving just three years behind bars, Silverstein was next convicted and charged with killing a fellow inmate, who was accused of being disrespectful to the Aryan Brotherhood, of which Silverstein had become a key member. Once Silverstein was sentenced he was sent to federal prison in Marion, Illinois, which at the time was one of the harshest prison in the United States.

Oddly enough, Silverstein’s conviction on the first murder was overturned as a judge felt that prosecutors witnesses were not reliable, however it seems Silverstein was past the point of self-control and was charged with killing yet another inmate, who was part of a black prison gang, and then yet another inmate, Raymond “Cadillac” Smith, who was the leader of a black prison gang.  Silverstein and another inmate, Clay Fountain, broke out of an exercise area and caught Smith as he was leaving a shower area. They stabbed him 67 times and then dragged his body up-and-down the prison tier so that other prisoners, still locked in their cells, could see the bloody corpse.

Officer Merle Clutts was in charge of the cell block at the time and it is claimed that he had it out for Silverstein in order to help bring order back to the prison, as the rival gang violence was getting out of control. After the authorities cleared Clutts of any wrongdoing, Silverstein was not pleased and immediately began plotting the murder of Clutts.

On October 22, 1983, with the help of other inmates, Silverstein slipped off his handcuffs while he was being led to a shower. Brandishing a home make “shank” (prison knife)  Silverstein broke free from the two guards escorting him and attacked Clutts, who was not carrying any weapons.An autopsy later showed Clutts had been stabbed forty times.

Since that time in 1983, Silverstein has been held in solitary confinement at a SuperMax prison facility and is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous inmates in the United States.  He’s held in a specially designed cell called Range 13 or the Silverstein Suite and has no human contact.

Silverstein is kept in his cell twenty-three hours per day. At certain times, an electronic door is opened for one hour, so he can step into the outside recreation area or into an indoor recreation cage. He is not allowed into the hallway in this drawing. That is used by officers when they need to microwave his meals or check on him face-to-face.

There is a visiting room attached to the indoor recreation cage, but since the Bureau of Prisons doesn’t allow him visitors, it has not been used. Despite, Silverstein’s convictions many question the rehabilitating effects on his environment and whether or not his living conditions are humane. At one point in time, as punishment for killing the prison officer, the lights were kept on in Silverstein’s cell for 24 hours a day for a lengthy period of time.

Eventually, Silverstein was given some privileges such as having a television and some art supplies, however he is not allowed to publicly show any of his artwork, as the prison system does not want him to profit due to his criminal notoriety. To this day he holds the record of the longest inmate kept in solitary confinement.

Silverstein is now 66 years old and his earliest theoretical date of release is November 2, 2095.

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