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Colorado Court Rejects Prisoner Claim of BOP Mistreatment

A Colorado prisoner's Fifth and Eighth Amendment claims against the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), have been dismissed by Judge Philip A. Brimmer of U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

Prisoner Thomas Silverstein was sentenced in 1978 and started serving a fifteen-year sentence for bank robbery. While in BOP custody, he murdered three other prisoners and then a BOP guard. He was transferred from the Marion prison to USP Atlanta, and then to USP Leavenworth. His final destination was to the USP Administrative Maximum Facility, known as "ADX," located in Florence, Colorado.

According to the court's decision, "plaintiff has been subject to the same procedures as all other ADX general population inmates." ADX prisoner Silverstein challenged the "program reviews performed by the BOP as inadequate and inconsequential, “and filed various administrative complaints to challenge his conditions of confinement, based upon his age, current low risk of violence, and his overall health.

Plaintiff has been previously diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, heart murmurs, rectal bleeding, hemorrhoids, and Hepatitis C. He claims that his treatment by the medical staff of the BOP in the various facilities has been inadequate, and resulted in Fifth Amendment due process and Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment violations. He has sought both equitable relief and monetary damages.

In reviewing the due process claims, the court found that no liberty interest had attached due to his conditions of confinement, based upon the holding of the Wilkinson v. Austin case. 545 U.S. 209 (2005). In that case, the Supreme Court came up with four tests to determine if a liberty interest has been violated. The court found that none of these four factors was violated by the BOP or its medical staff, due to his being given regular program reviews, the opportunity to raise objections at these reviews, and specific reasons for the denial of his applications..."

As to the Eighth Amendment claims, the court accepted his assertion that his medical conditions were serious, but rejected his argument that he had suffered "an objectively serious deprivation of harm or risk of harm," and granted summary judgment for the BOP. The court held that he had received adequate enough treatment to defeat the "deliberate indifference" argument articulated in Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825 (1994). "The court...notes that the record highlights that some of the delay with plaintiff's treatment is not a result of deliberate indifference, but may be attributed to the BOP's institutional constraints." See: Silverstein vs. Federal Bureau of Prisons, 07-cv-02471-PAB-KMT, U.S.D.C. (District of Colorado, 2011).

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Related legal case

Silverstein vs. Federal Bureau of Prisons