November 21st, 2008
01:45 PM ET

Chat with America's most dangerous prisoner

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.l.cnn.net/cnn/2008/WORLD/meast/03/27/hussein.journal/art.hussein.cell.cnn.jpg]
Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Tommy Silverstein has not one, but two personal web sites. He was also caged under Leavenworth for decades, and is the reason the ultimate maximum security penitentiary was built. His fellow inmates now include Ramzi Yousef, Ted Kaczynski, Richard Reid and Eric Rudolph.

And he wants to talk to you.

Who is Tommy Silverstein? If you want, he will tell you his story… And we’ll take you inside the prison where the worst of the worst call home.

And one added note: we're not advocating this. We're reporting it, so that you can know that Silverstein is out there in the blogosphere. Thank you all for your thoughts on it.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. john

    so they should let him out of confinement and risk him killing another person? yeah.......

    November 22, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  2. Jessica, Waco, Texas

    I completely agree that solitary confinement without serious and immediate threat of harm is cruel and unusual punishment and thus unconstitutional. On the same token, does this man know what goes on in general population? The infliction of harm by inmates on inmates is also cruel and unusual. The prison system needs intense modification to prevent such turf wars and attacks on human integrity.

    November 22, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  3. Roger

    Carol, I do agree with most of your post, however, u want us to believe that every inmate is a con and out to screw people and none of the inmates are innocent? Look at all o the prisoners that are being freed now to DNA which was not available 20 and 30 years ago. I think your job might be getting to you and u might be a tad biased against all inmates. The system is far from perfect and I am sure some of the inmates u listen on will one day walk free due to being innocent and over zealous prosecutors trying to make a name for themselves and by the way without inmates u would not have that great job am i correct.

    November 22, 2008 at 8:05 pm |
  4. danielle, nh

    I understand he killed a prison guard I am not supporting that, My grandfather was a corrections officer for the state of Connecticut for 26 years, and if this had happened to him I don't know what I would do.. but this man has been in solitary confinement for 23 years.. most people who get sent to solitary don't spend a tenth of that time... He killed, he's serving his time... after 23 years I think he has learned his lesson... what if this was you? A terrible decision that took someones life, who are you to say he doesn't feel remorse, that he doesn't think about what he did... I am not standing up for a murderer, yet I am standing up for prisoner rights.

    November 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm |
  5. toni

    i understand where everyone is coming from, but at this point there is nothing Tommy can do to really change the way yall feel about him. He is not asking for anything, you guys choose to read it, so it is all on you, dont blame Tommy. He was just sharing with people is years on the lockdown.

    November 22, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  6. Claytoni

    This guy is just a piece of worthless nothing. The only thing he deserves is exactly what he is getting now. No one has the right to take any life. That poor family of the guard who was murdered in cold blood. I think any prison is right with this decision. If you are willing to kill a guard, then you are very dangerous and a threat to the general population. I think the Warden would be personally liable if he allowed scum like Tommy to be released into the general population and the scum commited another murder. In the old days, they sent murderers of guards right to the chair. That is what Tommy really deserves, the chair, a needle, or a noose. May Satan take him as soon as possible.

    November 22, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  7. Michael Stewart

    I say his life should be taken, the same way that he took that gaurds life. CNN, please pass that on.

    November 22, 2008 at 7:23 pm |
  8. steve W

    the other comments are all spot on. this guy is a ruthless killer. He should have been put to death years ago. He is wasting tax payers money with his very existence.
    We are all intrigued to get a glimpse of what prison life is like so I guess that is why most of us visited this site. I do think it serves a purpose- much like many of the true crime shows and prison life shows on the history channel A/E etc...
    however publicity does not mean sympathy. Let him rot -Too bad we cant kill him

    November 22, 2008 at 6:43 pm |
  9. kayla

    If you wiki this guy, you can see he's actually been convicted of FOUR murders, one of which was overturned. He did confess to killing the guard and another inmate from a rival gang. Let's KEEP him in solitary confinement!

    November 22, 2008 at 6:35 pm |
  10. JudyL

    Shame on you Gabriel Falcon; and shame on the CNN editors! This story could have been told without incl. the e-addresses for the convicted killer.
    Your decision to incl. them, shows a lack of objective journalism; and instead shows tabloid-type-thinking.
    On your behalf, I apologize to Ted Turner. I doubt this is what he had in mind when he created CNN. What a shame.

    November 22, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  11. Lauren

    This guy serious?

    Inhumanity? The love of his life is art...
    Well he took someones life...
    An eye for an eye buddy!!

    You my friend are lucky!

    November 22, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  12. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    And just why does he even have access to a computer in the first place? This is so wrong on so many levels!!! And he has a blog too?

    Just who monitors all this?, Who is paying for this? This must be shut down right now! Prison is for punishment, not for luxury like this!


    November 22, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  13. Rod Bradley

    Well, I know I'm in the minority here but prisioners have rights too. His ability to communicate with the outside world should be no different than any other prisioners.. After all Peterson and Manson both do it!!

    November 22, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  14. large marge

    what a total waste of live(s) and talents. It is clear that this Tommy person has a gift for artwork. It is clear he is intelligent and has not lost his desire for privileges and to fight for what he perceives are his rights. Unfortunately, his rights were lost when he originally got sentenced, and were compounded and proved to be true and accurately applied when he was sentenced for taking the life of the prison guard and put in solitary confinement. I remember in school, there were certain kids who were simply "trouble". They represented chaos and how they were dealt with was an important message to all the other "would be houligans" in the wings. Tommy should have learned this long ago.

    November 22, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  15. dds

    I understand that sometimes prison guards can take there authority to another level but at the same time tommy you killed a innocent man. So you are going to have to understand that you are in prison there is no freedom in there. I am surprised that you even have internet access. Someone i know that is very close to me that is in prison and he can barely watch television let alone get internet access. But don't get me wrong i do understand that you have been confined in that small cell for 23 years and i think it is about time that they let you go into society.

    November 22, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  16. Jennifer

    What a disgrace. I have no pity... ROT.

    November 22, 2008 at 3:26 pm |
  17. e.

    this was really stupid. first of all why should prisoners be given computers in the first place??????? they could be somehow plotting to escape by contact with someone else on the internet. second, his "story" does not deserve to be on the news. you're in prison. big whoop. nobody cares. third, his artwork is not even that good.

    November 22, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  18. Jewel

    Just some more of Anderson Coopers bleeding liberal heart at work. I read about this case 25 years ago it's not new news. When I was reading about it it was the news of how he basically butchered Merle Clutts a Marion IL prison guard. There was no mention of Tommy Silverstein having any regard for Mr Clutts civil rights. Tommy Silverstein deserves nothing better than what he has. However Anderson and all his little mini-coopers are wasting government dollars (and in this day they are precious government dollars) making sure this animal is being treated properly. He's alive isn't he that's more than the prison guard he killed has going on. TOMMY SILVERSTEIN STABBED 51 YEAR OLD MERLE CLUTTS OVER 40 TIMES WITH A SHANK.. His original sentence was for armed robbery (not his first conviction on those charges) and he has been charged with 4 separate murders since his incarceration. Exactly what kind of lifestyle does that kind of criminal behavior entitle one to. Who in their right mind would waste 1 dollar or 1 minute of 1 day to make sure Tommy is being treated ok. And those of you that think Tommy deserves a break; you should have to personally look into the eyes of Mr Clutts Spouse, Children, Grand children, Brothers and Sisters and explain to them why Tommy deserves anything any better than what he has. And if you can do that and keep moving forward with your worthless cause and sleep at night .. you have no soul. - Jewel, Lincoln, IL

    November 22, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  19. J

    Dangerous prisoners do not have internet access in ANY US prison. This prisoner is writing someone who posts online for him.

    If he actually has been in solitary confinement for 23 years despite good behavior, then he does indeed have a legitimate 8th Amendment complaint, regardless of whether or not he shows remorse for his crimes.

    November 22, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  20. David S

    As an ex-offender this was not a perk that was there when I paid my debt to society. The inmates in question DO NOT HAVE ACCESS to the internet, the only thing that they have is access to an e-mail account. There is a BIG difference in e-mail access and full internet access. Some do, I agree, use the pen pal route as a huslte to get finance for commissary. Some, however, do not. (Sounds relative to a real society to me) While I am not entirely convinced that blogging would be an acceptable form of communication, the programs are quite new to the inmates. Most prisons do not even have them.

    BTW, the debt I paid? Paid in FULL!

    November 22, 2008 at 2:59 pm |
  21. Jan

    This character was in prison for armed robbery and then while in prison killed two inmates and a guard. He's a useless piece of humanity.

    I thought the whole idea of prison is for the inmates NOT to like it. The thinking being that they won't want to come back and maybe they'll change their ways but some people just don't learn and never will.

    I don't feel sorry for him. You do the crime, you do the time. Too bad, so sad.... NOT!

    I like the prison system they have somewhere in Arizona where the prisoners get baloney sandwiches every day for lunch and nothing special ever. Some prisoners live in tents in the Arizona heat. That warden should get an award for treating the prisoners like they should be treated. He makes them work and makes life hard and boring while they're behind bars. Their prison return rate there is lower than anywhere in the country.

    November 22, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  22. Lois

    This guy not only killed the guard, but was convicted of THREE other murders inside the prison. (One was overturned) The guard was stabbed over 40 times. I think I can see why he is under "no human contact". He is not much of a human being himself.

    I think it is ridiculous his messages are put on this website. He does not have direct internet access, in fact, he has never seen a computer nor even a cell phone. His "supporter" relays messages from the website to him, and he answers them. Silverstein was a leader in the Ayran Brotherhood. He chose his lot in life. Originally donvicted of armed robbery he could have been out decades ago. Instead he chose to kill, and kill again. What a guy. I say the supporter should champion a worthwhile cause. .

    November 22, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  23. Bro

    This is the murdered guards brother, When does my bro get released from solitaire so I can see him?

    November 22, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  24. arya, VA

    i disagree, you guys are the cold heartless ones, this guy committed a crime 20 years ago, after he was already in horrible conditions. now you think he should live in a box for the rest of his life? while you guys sit in your nice homes and judge this guy, he is doing what he can to get out of a dungeon, just so he can serve what is already a tough life sentence. It is clear that the warden is acting out of personal remorse.

    November 22, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
  25. BN

    Inmates dont have internet access but if you read the blog, he must be either dictating these entries to another party , presumably a lawyer, who then posts them on the internet.

    And for what its worth, execute this guy, he's had 23 more years that the guard didnt get.

    November 22, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  26. Paige

    First of all, you people who keep saying he never mentions the guard he kills or takes responsibility must not have actually read everything. He does both, clearly. There are two sites though, and since reading comprehension doesn't seem to be the specialty of most of the enraged posters, I'm not surprised these facts eluded you.
    Second, he was sentenced to life in prison, not life in solitary confinement. They are claiming to be using solitary confinement to prevent him from being a threat, but they're clearly using it to penalize him. You people recognize that and seem to think it's just (e.g. "who cares about *his* rights"). Guess what, prisoners do have rights. Random people on the internet don't get to decide their fates, thank goodness. You people saying he should be executed are as bad as he is- you're a human who has the audacity to assume they are qualified to and should be allowed to determine when another human deserves to die.
    Third, as someone else stated, he does not have a computer in his cell that he gets to surf all day long. He's corresponding with various people who are maintaining his blog, posting his artwork, etc. If you can't even understand this basic aspect of these circumstances, you need to back away from the opinion section of any article that requires critical thinking.
    Finally, as someone who has been in the unique and horrifying position of having a family member murdered *and* having a family member claim responsibility for that murder, I'm pretty shocked at the self righteousness of the posters here. You're not a judge. *You* don't know all the facts. And you had your mind made up about this man before you read anything he wrote.
    I just learned about all of this today when I clicked through to it from the front page of the crime section, but after reading through the appeals and rejections, only one side offers a reasonable argument, while the other is clearly abusing its power. How sad that the reasonable argument is from the man convicted of murder, and the abuse of power is from our government. That's terrifying.

    November 22, 2008 at 1:01 pm |
  27. LeAnn

    I agree with Carol, WI. Inmates DO NOT have access to computers it is people from the outside who do this kinda work. He killed a GUARD people. He is lucky he isn't being put to death in my opinion. I am in no place to cast stones but I have never taken another human life and I do belive that people who are a danger and a threat to society need to be placed somewhere without the comforts of home. Hell I don't even get 3 meals a day or have air conditioning!!!

    November 22, 2008 at 12:46 pm |
  28. This Guy

    Hmmmm...... instead of feeding, housing, and un-believably giving them freaking computers, and even hooking them up to the internet, which amazes me they have these things. Lets take all of that away, save our souring economy a little extra money, and just lock them in a room, feed them, and let them get that one hour exercise a week with showers every other day or so. And if they dont like it, I will personally but them a bullet for 50 cents, send it to the guards, and they can execute the guys that are already rotting away in prison, and save me a hell of alot of money. I work damn hard for everything I have, they did un thinkable crimes, and they have about the same things in there that I have to bust my ass day after day for. I mean, if its like that, sign me up. The way things are going these days, we need to divert costs away from things that are not needed for essential life functions. they are lucky we let them live their life out as it is, they do not need these things. They might as well live beside me and get welfare for that matter. Pretty much what they are doing now. Its not right. Obama, i doubt your going to do to much for this country, but re evaluating the prison system and cutting un necessary cost would absolutely be a good start.

    November 22, 2008 at 12:40 pm |
  29. Quadena

    what is the world coming to. I saw that he remarked that the law was not fair . My question is what do you call fair. Even the enemy has a way to play .

    November 22, 2008 at 12:33 pm |
  30. Former Inmate

    After reading this Web Page is lying though their teeth. This convicted killer DOES get out of his cell five days a week for recreation. He is allowed pencils and paper thus he does have some art supplies. Evidence of this is also shown on his web site where his "art work" is displayed. No this poor miss understood soul does not get clay to scupt with, or use oil paints and canvas. As for being in total isolation that is also bull. He can talk to other inmates because their cells on are next to one another and they are not sound proof in any way. He is allowed visits from his family and friends on certain days of the week. There is no mention of what he did to be put in prison in the first place, he may have killed many more people. If you want to know why he is in prison, call the prison, freedom of information act may allow you to know why he was put in prison in the first place. He is far from being "totally isolated".

    November 22, 2008 at 11:58 am |
  31. Abby

    Tommy made mistakes, rather large ones, but he is stlil a human. If all he wants is art supplies, give them to him. He has a heart. He has feelings. Yes, he has murdered someone, Yes he should be in jail, but why continue the punishment? He's already in jail, unable to start//have a normal life. Ever. Do you really think you are all that high and mighty that you can condescend him for asking for some art supplies? What is wrong with you people? HES A HUMAN BEING.
    yes, i think it is innapropriate to give him internet access, but jesus. All of you need to stop. Its pathetic.

    November 22, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  32. Susan

    Why don't we take that computer away from him, and give it to a school that needs it. That way we give a small child a chance to use it to learn, and better themselves, instead of enabling a career criminal to complain about a situation that he put himself into. Or maybe I'm just being silly. Let's give ALL the prison inmates in the country Mac powerbooks! Then we can listen to all of their great ideas for improving our country. Only the best for our best in society!

    November 22, 2008 at 11:36 am |
  33. Diane

    He should be able to join the general population when the guard he murdered is able to do the same.

    November 22, 2008 at 10:52 am |
  34. Kerri

    I am truly disgusted in the fact that this man who murdered someone is whining about his living conditions and what he is being denied. WAKE UP!! You are being denied art supplies, what about the family who is denied Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving and any other happy times with their son, brother, father, husband, friend that you brutally murdered!!! GIve me a break, 3 meals a day, a bed to sleep in, free education services......GET OVER YOURSELF!!!

    November 22, 2008 at 10:19 am |
  35. Wendy

    While I may not be in full support of Tommy being sent out ot General Population, I think what they are doing to him is cruel and inhumane. He has served, in isolation, more time than many murderers spend in the general population at prison. For those of you who think that his punishment is fair, think of the worst thing you have ever done and go sit in a cold isolated room with no human contact, strips searched, and fed slop for a month to pay for it. Then, imagine repeating that month 276 times. That's how long Tommy has been in isolation.

    November 22, 2008 at 9:57 am |
  36. tony

    gabriel falcon, shame on you.

    November 22, 2008 at 8:46 am |
  37. SBC

    I've read of Poor Tommy's plight.and about the Aryan Brotherhood of which he is a member. Nice bunch of fellas. The New Yorker magazine has available an article about him and his minions that one can view online. I suggest it should be read by those who may wish to agrue against this purportedly "inhumane" treatment of these animals. If there is any one person who is a strong arguement in favor of capital punishment , it is Tommy Silverstein.

    November 22, 2008 at 7:33 am |
  38. Carol, WI

    Did CNN investigate this story at all? Where are the facts about this inmate's background (public record – should be easy to get). Why is CNN promoting this website? CNN has become the Jerry Springer of news the past year. Just looking for provocative tabloid tidbits.

    I work in a prison and inmates do not have internet access. Inmates looking for pen-pals are just looking for new victims to manipulate from the inside. Many of the inmates "friends" on their visiting lists are victims who send money in to these losers. I monitor the phone calls and see how the people are being fooled. There is little we can do as staff about it unless the inmate commits a new crime.

    CNN should really do some fact-checking on this story. I just don't understand why this is posted here. Why are you promoting for an inmate like this to interact with gullible citizens? Shame on you!

    November 21, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  39. DB

    They do not have internet access for prisoners. He is obviously writing to someone and they are posting it on the web. That is a fact.

    November 21, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  40. C.

    Do not give this guy more publicity. His website links should not be posted.

    November 21, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  41. boyce88

    This seems to me to be one of the most wasted blogs I've ever read. Poor SOB is not liking prison...I'm sure all the relatives of the person he MURDERED are not feel very sorry for him. Prison is prison and prison is for convicts. You made your bed, now lay in it. When you commit a crime, you have to be thinking, "if I get caught, I'll go to prison." Please spare all of us law abiding citizens your whining and crying. BE A MAN. No one made you do what you did. I've wasted enuff of my time typing this already.

    November 21, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  42. Deidre

    I agree, there is no remorse from Tommy about his actions. He is a model prisoner now because he has no one to fight with. And for him to think he deserves any kind of special treatment for being human? Well you have your three hots and a cot. Thats as far as it should go. You didnt think about the victim's chances nor their family and whatever put you into prison in the first place you didnt think of your own family. Now you want people to think of you? Im paying taxes to keep your butt alive in prison. You eat and you sleep and you walk around. Thats more than what you gave anyone else that came in contact with you. So man up and stop whining. You put yourself there deal with.

    November 21, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  43. Rick

    So tell me about the guard that you KILLED, tell me about the guards family and his friends. Tell me about what his likes and dislikes were. YOU killed another person, who did nothing to you. And now you act like society should have pity on you, please, give me a break. You deserve 24 hours a day in hell.

    November 21, 2008 at 3:35 pm |
  44. Jon

    In all of his writings he is concerned only for himself. There is not a word about the man he intentionally killed or about his family. He asks to whom he is a threat because, he says, "I have not threatened anyone in 23 years", the time he has been in total solitary. He would be a threat to any human with whom he comes in contact, as evidenced by his murder of a guard in a prison. The 23 years he has been no-threat is 23 years of success for the BOP strategy of making sure he comes into contact with no human. One question: other than salaciousness, why is this guy a story on CNN?

    November 21, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  45. joan

    You murdered a man in cold blood. If you were truly in solitary you wouldn't have a computer that has internet access. I feel no pity or mercy for you. You belong where you are. Your smiley face and paintings don't change who you are and what you did.

    November 21, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  46. H. Berch

    Why is CNN giving this guy more publicity?

    November 21, 2008 at 3:25 pm |
  47. GF, Los Angeles

    Boo hoo cry me a river – prison is not a resort hotel so I don't feel bad for you Tommy. You have a roof over your head and 3 meals a day on my dime. No you don't get art supplies – again this is not a resort. Of course you're a model prisoner if you're in an isolated cell – no one for you to get in a fight with. Where are the rights for the guard you killed? What about the rights of his family and friends who no longer have this guard (I'm assuming was a man) to hug, kiss and talk to? Did this guard leave a wife and children behind or was he not married and will never have a chance to find that love? Where is his justice?! I think it's ridiculous that you have internet access at all. I long for the days when prisons were like the one I visited in Yuma that operated in the late 1800's. They lived in a clay/iron cell in 120 degree heat with nothing but the four walls to stare at and they had to work. Why should we make prison even easier for you? Nothing on your blog expresses any type of remorse for taking another person's life.

    November 21, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  48. mohamed

    first i didnt knew that prisoner had computers and if they have i thing they should be watch all the time and not allowed them to chat with kids or anyone else becouse its too dangerous that is my eida about chating with the prisoner.

    November 21, 2008 at 2:19 pm |