No Human Contact: Solitary Confinement, Maximum Security, and Two Inmates Who Changed the System

by Pete Earley

SYNOPSIS – Told through the lens of two murders that changed modern-day prison corrections in America, award-winning New York Times bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Pete Earley delivers an eye-opening exploration of reprehensible crime, draconian punishment, and seemingly impossible reform in the tombs of the country’s most isolated super max prison.

In 1983, Thomas Silverstein and Clayton Fountain, both serving life sentences at the U.S, Prison in Marion, Illinois, separately murdered two correction officers on the same day. The Bureau of Prisons condemned both men to the severest punishment that could legally be imposed, one created specifically for them. It was unofficially called “no human contact.”
Each initially spent nine months in a mattress-sized cell where the lights burned twenty-four hours a day. They were clothed only in boxer shorts, completely sealed off from the outside world with only their minds to occupy their time. Eventually granted minimal privileges, Fountain turned to religion and endured twenty-one-years before dying alone of natural causes. Silverstein became a skilled artist and lasted thirty-six years, longer than any other American prisoner held in isolation. Amazingly, both men found purpose to their existence while confined in the belly of the beast.
Pete Earley—the only journalist to be granted face-to-face access with Silverstein—examines profound questions at the heart of our justice system. Were Silverstein and Fountain born bad? Or were they twisted by abusive childhoods? Did incarceration offer them a chance of rehabilitation—or force them to commit increasingly heinous crimes?
No Human Contact elicits a uniquely deep and uncomfortable understanding of the crimes committed, the use of solitary confinement, and the reality of life, redemption, and death behind prison walls.

MY THOUGHTS – Another excellent true crime book by Pete Earley. Shocking stories of the real life situations behind bars endured by prisoners for decades. It gives much to think about and will stay with me a long time.

PUBLISHER – Citadel Press – 320 pages

PUBLICATION DATE – Apr 25th, 2023


ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Pete Earley is a mental health advocate, journalist, and New York Times bestselling author of fiction and nonfiction books, including The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness. A former Washington Post reporter, Earley has appeared five times before the U.S. Congress to testify about the need for mental health reform, has spoken in 49 states, and addressed legislators in four foreign countries. He serves on the board of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, which finances projects to eliminate homelessness. He writes regularly for USA Today and the Washington Post about mental health issues. Earley lives in Northern Virginia and can be found online at


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