Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Supermax inmate suing to lessen solitary confinement - The Denver Post

Supermax inmate suing to lessen solitary confinement - The Denver Post

Between 1979 and 1982, Thomas Silverstein was accused of killing three inmates, and he was convicted in two of the cases.

But what happened Oct. 22, 1983, was different. This time he killed a guard, Merle Clutts, at the maximum-security prison in Marion, Ill.

Silverstein's unprecedented record of prison violence called for an unprecedented response. With no federal death penalty in place at the time, the Bureau of Prisons placed Silverstein in indefinite solitary confinement.

Almost 28 years later, he remains there.

Now housed at the administrative maximum prison in Florence known as "Supermax," Silverstein has been held in solitary longer than any other federal prisoner in the United States.

In a declaration filed as part of a civil-rights lawsuit, Silverstein, 59, has asked a judge to lessen his isolation, noting he has spent almost half his life in solitary and has had a spotless conduct record for more than two decades.

The 64-page document — one of the most thorough public accountings to date of Silverstein's life in isolation — details conditions in each prison where he has done time and his remorse about killing Clutts. It also chronicles his repeated but futile attempts to learn what, if anything, he could do to persuade prison officials to let him out of solitary so he could interact with other inmates and win back privileges, such as a prison job.

The case, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver on Silverstein's behalf by a team of lawyers from the University of Denver, has reignited the debate over whether prolonged isolation violates the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Federal prosecutors argue that Silverstein's confinement has been appropriate considering the danger he poses to prison officials, fellow inmates and the public.

They say Silverstein is a high-ranking member of the violent prison gang Aryan Brotherhood who has caused a prison riot, has committed other assaults on guards and continues to "call shots" for the gang — a claim Silverstein and his attorneys deny.

Read more: Supermax inmate suing to lessen solitary confinement - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17954968#ixzz1KwRfbhFT
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