Dawn of a New Adventure (Part 13)

Last Saturday night, I spoke at a fund-raiser for Paul Denham, a partially blind Englishman serving life in prison in California for a murder he never committed. I met Paul's mum in 2012 at a Koestler Trust event and I posted his story here. Since then, the movement to help Paul has gained momentum and the London Innocence Project has accepted his case.

In addition to my talk on drugs and prison to schools, I've recently launched a new talk to schools based on the 10 most important lessons I've learned in my life as set out in my new self-help book, Lessons. Any teachers interested in my new talk can book it through this link. 

My third book, Prison Time, was published successfully in the UK last month, completing my life story as a trilogy. Kindle orders will not be delivered worldwide until April 30th. Amazon USA hasn't shipped out any books that were pre-ordered in America, but the Book Depository is shipping worldwide, so if you are in America and you don't want to wait for Amazon USA, you can cancel your outstanding order and get it from the Book Depository by using this link.

So far no copies of Lessons have been shipped, but the ebook is being delivered in the USA via this link and audio books are being delivered worldwide using this link. If you want to listen to the beginning of Lessons then click "play sample" at this link.

I've been receiving emails from people who have read Prison Time asking when the biography that Two Tonys dictated to me is going to be published. Thanks to my new Dragon voice recognition software, I'm dictating the notes I took in prison to my computer, so it's coming along much quicker than typing it up. This is the first blog that I'm actually dictating to my computer. It's great not to be hunched over typing.

On the evening of May 21 in London, I'm doing another Banged-Up Abroad talk, including a question and answer session. Tickets are available here.

Shaun Attwood

From T-Bone (Letter 19)

This jail is crazy. Sheriff Joe Arpaio is supposed to be a public official. Ha! He is a real joke. I think he gets off on making people suffer in as degrading conditions as possible. There is no justification for people to be living like this who are unsentenced. There is supposed to be a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

The food is worse than you can imagine and we get absolutely no sunshine. They've been feeding us peanut butter every day for over a year now. Every night we get lentil beans with corn starch and fake meat we call "dog or horse meat." Only two meals a day! They feed us oranges that have no juice. They're completely dry. I am hungry all of the time.

I thank God that so far I haven't had to put my hands on anyone in here, even though there are a few who need it. There are people in here who don't think twice before running into someone's cell to smash them even though there are two cameras in our pod that don't miss anything. The guards just turn their backs to all of the violence because they're too lazy to do the paperwork. Every day, I always here someone banging or screaming for help.

A few months ago, a guard was doing pull-up exercises on a water pipe and it broke, flooded the guard tower and fried all of the computers ans electronics. That's why we were all moved - same cells, different floor.

I am truly sorry to read that Jack has cancer. He is a strong man, a good Marine. God bless him.

Thank you for mailing a signed copy of Prison Time to my wife. How is the life you have chosen going now that you are an established author? How is your niece and family? Is London loud and crazy or safe and friendly?

Each One Teach One
Steel Embrace
Strength and honor

Shaun Attwood   

Greetings from the Abyss by Jack (Part 18)

Last month, while I was writing the beginning of this letter, an officer was assaulted in one of the other buildings on our yard. The immediate knee-jerk response of the prison was to rush in their Tactical Support Unit (TSU). These guys consider themselves above all of the rules, regulations and laws. When they show up on a unit, their decisions overrule those of all of the officers assigned to that yard, up to and including the deputy warden. They are notorious for their cruelty and disregard for basic human rights.

The first thing they did was rush the buildings, screaming and shouting at everyone, dressed in black fatigues, helmets, arm and shin guards, doing their best to intimidate everyone into complying with their orders. If you don’t comply, you get cuffed up and physically assaulted. Think of every film you ever saw about the Gestapo and you’ll get the idea.

They rushed our pod with their usual tactics and rounded us up. They stripped us out – which in most cases isn’t so much a search for contraband as an opportunity they seize upon to intimidate and embarrass us – and herded us outside onto the recreation field.

My problems started because I didn’t have both of my hands on the top of my head on my way outside. Didn’t matter that my hand wasn’t on my head because I have to use a cane to walk, so I got shoved into a wall. I hit the wall hard enough that it caused sharp intense pain where my chemo port is placed in my chest.

My second mistake was involuntarily raising my hand to my port. The TSU officer who shoved me slammed his hand over mine which slammed into my port. The pain was so intense that I dropped to my knees, which brought two more TSU officers over to help their buddy “control the unruly inmate.”

Luckily for me, one of the officers who came over normally works for prison transportation and had taken me to the oncologist and to my chemo treatments several times. He recognized me and interceded on my behalf. I was able to stand back up and he escorted me to the rec field.

My building sat out for most of the night on the rec field in our underwear. No moving. No talking. No bathroom breaks. It was cold and damp. I was nauseas from the pain and in quite a bit of discomfort from sitting on the hard ground all that time.     

TSU finally let us back into the building after they had trashed all of our belongings. As usual they didn’t take anything, just destroyed what they could reasonably assert was necessary in their search for contraband.
I was tired, in pain and not feeling very good, so I just pushed everything together near the head of my bed and went to sleep.

I don’t remember much about the next nine days. My fever went up and down like a rollercoaster and I don’t remember eating much. A couple of guys on the run took care of me because they couldn’t get me seen by Medical.

Once the fever finally broke, it took me a few days to regain my strength. I haven’t done very much since then and just went back to work today.

I don’t feel that bad now so I thought I should write you and apologize for taking so long to respond to your letter.

Jack is serving life without parole, and has terminal cancer. Throughout my incarceration, Jack was a positive influence. He encouraged me to keep writing, to enter short-story competitions, and we proofread each other’s chapters. Jack is seeking pen pals, so anyone interested please email me at attwood.shaun@hotmail.co.uk for his details.

 Shaun Attwood  

Shaun Attwood Slams Chris Grayling's Prison Book Ban on The Wright Stuff

Video of my call to Matthew Wright today stating how books were integral to my rehabilitation and how Chris Grayling's prison book ban is obscene. The audio starts out wonky at the studio's end but they fix it half way through.

Shaun Attwood Slams Chris Grayling's Prison Book Ban on The Wright Stuff from shaunattwood on Vimeo.

Banning Books from UK Prisoners is Obscene

The UK has followed Arizona's lead in banning books from being sent into prisons. In a move reminiscent of a Sheriff Joe Arpaio publicity stunt, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has introduced a rule preventing inmates from receiving parcels from outside unless they have “exceptional circumstances” such as a medical condition. Books and subscription magazines are prohibited.

Chris Grayling
During the almost 6 years I served in Arizona, books were the lifeblood of my rehabilitation. My family, friends and kind blog readers from around the world sent in hundreds of books via Amazon. I shared them with my friends in prison and donated them to the prison library, which was lacking in contemporary literature and stocked mostly mass-market fiction and a few dusty classics. By reading books from the psychology, self-help and philosophy genres, I was able to better understand myself and my past criminal behaviour. Books instilled me with a value system that was integral to my rehabilitation. Reading honed my writing skills, which led to a career as an author with Random House. Being an author gave me the credibility to talk in schools.

In recent years however, my attempts to get books into Arizona prisons have been increasingly obstructed. I've attempted to send books to T-Bone in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail via Amazon, and all of the books were returned to the sender. The state prison, the Arizona Department of Corrections, now requires anyone sending books via Amazon to be on the inmates approved visitor list, which excludes me from sending books to all of my friends in prison because ex-inmates aren't allowed to be on visitors' lists.

Society should be doing everything that it can to rehabilitate prisoners. Banning books is an obscene move in the opposite direction. Why is Chris Grayling adopting the failed policies of the USA which has the highest incarceration rate in the world? Why is Chris Grayling adopting the policies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio who boasts that the jail system he runs is a Nazi concentration camp? Arizona, which prides itself on its hard prisons, has some of the highest crime and re-offending rates in America according to FBI statistics. At the end of the day, the taxpayers will foot the bill for the mess Chris Grayling is creating.

If you believe that prisoners should have more access to books, please sign this petition.   

Click here for my original blog on receiving books in jail

Discussing books with Two Tonys an old-school Mafia associate serving 112 years.

More with Two Tonys

Click here for questions that I answered about my Banged Up Abroad episode for National Geographic

The books my Banged Up Abroad episode was based on - Party TimeHard Time and Prison Time - are all available on Amazon here.  

Click here to read about the prisoners at this blog who range from Mafia hit men to giant transsexuals.  

If you have any questions for me, please Tweet me here, or post them to my Facebook here or post them in the comments below.

Shaun Attwood