A Christmas Eve poem from an anonymous inmate

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the cells,
The convicts were locked down
Madder than hell.
Except for the lifers
Kicked back on their bunks
With heads filled with visions
Of all of these grumps.
When suddenly from the roof top
There arose such a roar
That the cops thought
It must be a riot for sure.
The goon squad came running
Ready to hit
And the Sergeant yelled out,
“Who started this shit?”.
“It came from the roof,”
Sniveled some low life snitch.
“Must be a break out.
Oh! Son of a bitch!”
They climbed to the rooftop
By way of the stairs
And found a fat freak
In bright red underwear.
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” said the dude,
“I’m here on the scene”.
“Good Lord,” said the Captain
“We’ve captured a Queen!”
They yelled, “Hey you in the sleigh,
Get your hands on the wall.”
Then slapped on the cuffs
And searched him an all.
They booked him, and threw him
In the hole with a kick;
Well, so much for Christmas
They’ve busted St. Nick!

25 Nov 04

Bald Headed Fred

My new cellmate’s crime spree came to an abrupt end in 1995. He had been robbing drug dealers, which he considered his specialty, but his final job went askew.

BHF’s last robbery had commenced as normal. He subdued the occupants of an apartment at gunpoint, and proceeded to torture the drug dealer to get him to cough up the combination to the safe. BHF’s preferred method of torture that day involved knocking the man unconscious by hitting him in the head with a ball-peen hammer, a bloody process that broke the victim’s nose and split his head open. The victim’s hands were then raised above his head and attached to a shower with duct tape. When the victim regained consciousness, BHF played naughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe) on the fellows chest and face with a six-inch blade. After learning the safe’s combination, BHF stuffed his duffel bag with $10,000 in cash and $50,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine He was about to go on his way when some of the victim’s roommates returned home. They saw the bloodstained crime scene, fled and called the police. The police already had the place surrounded because BHF’s getaway driver was an informant, and a sting operation had been set up.

BHF hopped a fence and landed in someone's backyard. A lady holding a poodle opened a French window and BHF heard, “Easy boy, easy boy.” Fearing that the police helicopter would shine its light on him at any minute, BHF snapped into action.
“Freeze, police! In the house now!” he yelled, pointing his .357 Magnum at the lady's face.
He escorted her into the living room where he found a scantily clad and disheveled young couple, who had ventured down stairs to investigate the disturbance.
“Freeze muthafuckas, on the ground!” BHF said.
A large German Shepherd remained docile while BHF locked all of the windows and doors, and turned the lights off.
“Anyone else here?” BHF asked.
“You calm down, go and put some clothes on and come straight back,” he said to the young lady dressed only in her underwear.
“I’ve done killed nine people tonight, let’s not make that twelve.”
It wasn’t long before BHF’s picture was broadcast on the TV and the hostages learned the true nature of his crimes.
“I’m not gonna rob you or hurt you. Just don’t do anythin’ stupid, and when it gets light outside I’m gone,” he told them.
The police knocked on the front door, but after their knocks went unanswered, they shone their torches in the backyard and departed. After a few hours of hovering the helicopter left.

The hostages and BHF bonded whilst drinking beers and smoking marijuana together. Eight hours later Fred decided that it was time to leave.
“I’m gonna take yer truck. Gimme yer keys. Get whatever you want out of it and I’ll call you and let you know where I leave it, so you can quickly get it back.”
The young man obliged and BHF kept his promise.

Two days later, after many news broadcasts had advertised BHF as a wanted man, someone tipped off the authorities that BHF was at a friend’s house. The house was surrounded by a SWAT team, a helicopter, an armoured vehicle, and news crews. BHF barricaded himself in the garage and while the cameras were broadcasting live, a police negotiator threw BHF a black box containing a phone which Fred grabbed with a rake.
“Today’s a good day to die. What do you think?” Fred said.
“I’m here to help you get out. Have you got any hostages?”
“Yeah,” Fred lied, worried that they would storm the garage if they knew he was solo.
“We’re not coming in. Is there anything that you need?”
“I wanna pizza!”
“What else?”
“A helicopter,” Fred said.
“You’ve watched too many movies,” the negotiator said, and laughed.

One of BHF’s female friends, Special K, saw the standoff on her TV and rushed to the scene. She convinced the negotiator that she could talk BHF out of the garage without anyone getting harmed.
“Hi, honey,” Special K greeted BHF.
“Are you gonna give up and come out?”
“I’ve got dope and smokes, I’m OK.”
“You’re big-time surrounded. Look down the street.”
BHF peeped at the armoured vehicle that had positioned itself so that its battering ram could knock down the garage door.
“They’re comin’ in to get yer, honey. They promise that no shots will be fired and I’ll get to talk to you if you come out right now.”

With his hands in the air, BHF surrendered. After being pummeled by the police, he was allowed to talk to Special K.

BHF’s next violent crime occurred at Alhambra, the prison processing facility for
newly-sentenced inmates. BHF had been housed in a fourteen-man cell, and one of the occupants was a convicted child molester. BHF presided over a kangaroo court with his new cellmates and it was decided that the "cho-mo" should be stabbed and tortured.

I read BHF’s police reports which describe what happened next. The sex offender was tied up and battered for “a good five minutes”. “They stuffed strips of cloth in his mouth…prior to the stabbings to see how the muffle worked.” His boxer shorts were pulled down and he was mocked for having “a little one”. The sex offender stated, “At that point was where I got stabbed in the stomach several times”. BHF actually stabbed him eleven times and then held a shank to the eyeball of a witness who stated, “He put it at the corner of my eye like he was gonna shove it in there and he says, ya know, he says you say anything, I’m gonna take this and shove it into your eye and pop your eye out. He said then we’re gunna eat it.”

For stabbing the child molester, BHF received an additional 30 months on top of the fifteen-year sentence for the kidnappings, home invasions and aggravated assaults. He feels that the 30 months was a small price to pay for stabbing and torturing someone convicted of molesting children. He is wondering how you feel about what he did to the sex offender.

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Christmas Greetings & Thanks
Thank you to all of the kind people who sent books for my birthday, which I received forwarded from Florence this week. Thank you for all the Christmas cards and books that I am receiving at Buckeye. The books do not always come with receipts, but I have mailed personal thank you's to all those that have. A big thank you to Guy Goo and the fair Surrah for the expensive finance books I am enjoying studying. Some readers have asked if I can receive photocopies and photographs. I can receive unlimited amounts of both and there is no censorship. Thank you all for being so kind and for keeping the blog's momentum going. A special thanks to my parents for their hard work in maintaining the blog. They will be visiting for two weeks at Christmas: we'll have a lot to talk about.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
...... appreciatively, Jon

If you would like to send Jon a Christmas Greeting, his address is below:
Shaun Attwood ADC#187160
ASPC-Lewis,Morey 2-D-2,P.O. Box 3300,Buckeye, AZ 85326, USA
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18 Nov 04

The Move
(Part 2)

The bus stopped at Buckeye prison's main gate and a guard with a clipboard opened the side door.
“What’s your number?”
Satisfied with my answer, he closed the door, circled the bus, raised the hood and examined the vehicle.
Upon being given the all clear, the main gate was opened and we proceeded to a second checkpoint. The transportation officers exited the bus and a female officer instructed them to walk through a metal detector. The African American officer kept making the machine beep. He spent five minutes removing items of clothing until the woman was satisfied. We then proceeded from the entrance gate to the unit where I was to be housed.
“You can get out now. You’ve been awfully quiet back there,” said the redneck.
“I’m a quiet person.”
“Where’s that accent from?”
“I spent ten years travellin’ the world with the military. I really like England. What the hell are you doin’ out here anyway?”
“It’s a long story. Stockbroker gone wild.” I said.
“Well, you know what they say about Arizona, don’t you?”
“People come on vacation and leave on probation,” he said.
I smiled.
“Well, good luck to you,” he said, as he uncuffed me.
My three property boxes were extracted from the bus. A guard opened the gate and I walked through it carrying the boxes. I was locked in an outdoor cage, and the gate officer unholstered his walkie-talkie: “We got a new one here from SMU2. Can someone take him to his house?”

I was now at the prison where the longest hostage situation in the U.S. had occurred. I recognised the tower from the news. Over the mountains, behind the prison buildings, I saw an unusual smoke cloud in the shape of a funnel rising into the sky. The smoke was coming from the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Station, the largest of it’s kind in the country. The Palo Verde Nuclear Power Station was cited as a terrorist target following the 9/11 attacks.

“Is there somewhere I can pee out here?”
“No, you’ll just have to wait until you get inside.”
Two more officers arrived and I was escorted across the compound.
“It’s about time you made it!” hollered an inmate.
Another yelled, “Where’ve you been for so long?”
“I read about you in the newspaper,” said another.
I was escorted to Building 2, and then towards pods C and D. Down the entrance corridor we veered to the right and into D pod. I was led to a cell that I wrongly assumed was to be mine.
“Look who’s here!” shouted one of the guards into the cell. The son of the ex-Mafia hitman, Sammy the Bull, emerged from the room. With his dad, Junior Bull had a high-profile Ecstasy case and he was aware of my situation. I suspected that the guards had brought me to his cell to see how we would react to one another. As I had already met him at the Towers Jail we were on friendly terms.
“How yer doin’?” Junior Bull asked in a heavy New York Italian accent.
We shook hands.
“Much better now that I’m not going to be locked down all day. How about you?”
“I’m doin’ alright. I read dat shit in da newspaper about you writin’ about Joe Arpaio’s jail.”
“Yeah, I’ve become something of a champion of prisoners' rights.”
“You’ll be alright 'ere. I’ve already told da fellas dat yer a good dude.”
“I appreciate that.”
“Okay, lets show ya to yer cell,” said one of the guards.
I was instructed to go up the stairs to cell D22. The 8 feet by 12 feet room was spick and span. It contained double bunks, a toilet, a sink, shelves and a much larger table than in any of my previous cells. There was a slim window, like one of those windows in a turret that archers used to shoot their arrows from; it provided a view of the pebbles and gravel separating the buildings.
“Your celly is a bit of a joker!” a guard said and departed.
“Great. I like the quiet life,” I yelled after him.

I soon found out I had been housed with one of the most dangerous men in the unit, a man whose numerous violent crimes included torturing and stabbing another inmate whom he had discovered was a child molester. BHF had already served 10 years of a 16-year sentence. His crimes and subsequent arrest were on the news. The cell I had moved into was also BHF's tattoo shop.

D pod has 25 two-man cells. There is a large day room about the size of a ballroom, which I share with the other 49 pod members. There are five private showers arranged like cloakrooms at the end of the runs. There are two white plastic circular tables in the day room, which inmates use to play dominoes, cards, chess and Scrabble. Most of the inmates here seem to be heroin users and the majority of them have hepatitis C. Two charge-per-call phones hang on the wall. Day-room access is from 7am until 8.15pm, however we are required to lockdown for two counts, one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon.

A 50-year-old gay named George has been insisting that I read chapters of Harry Potter to him in my, “fine English accent”. A six-and-a-half-foot transexual called Xena has been putting her arm around me and asking if I, “wanna go party?” While at rec, an inmate took me to one side and told me about an encounter he had had with a transsexual in Texas. I told him I didn't do that kind of stuff.

The inmates donated some extra clothing to me. I was provided the bare essentials by prison staff and the rest I have to purchase-what a racket! Junior Bull gave me a sweatshirt, which cost him $11 at the inmate store.

There’s plenty of things to do here. I challenged the resident chess and Scrabble champions. I'm marched off to the chow hall three times a day for hot meals, and I’ve had no problems getting vegetarian food. There are daily two-hour recreation sessions. Lengthy contact visits are allowed on alternate weekend days, which can last from 7.30am to 3pm; I am allowed one hour per week in the library. With all of this activity, I'm hoping that the rest of my sentence will pass quickly.
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11 Nov 04

The Move
(Part 1)

Near midnight, a female guard approached my cell, and said,“Roll yer property up. Yer leavin’ tomorrow.”
“Can he take his food with him?” Penguin asked.
“No, he cannot take his food!”
Penguin licked his lips.
I was happy and nervous. I was glad to be getting out of lockdown, to be on my way to a prison where I would be allowed new privileges. I prayed for a good cellmate.
I removed all food from my property boxes. All I had was a quarter jar of Circus Brand Creamy Peanut Butter, two boxes of Keefe Kitchens Snackers Snack Crackers, and five packets of Cactus Annie’s Cheddar Cheese Squeeze Snack. The property being moved included books, toiletries, stationery, correspondence and my written work. I ate the peanut butter and gave the rest to Penguin.
“Ay, England, you leavin’ any food behind?” Mad Dog asked.
The rest of the Chicanos followed suit.
“Fuck Penguin! He’s got plenty of store. Fish that shit up here to us indigent inmates," Mad Dog said in a tone a young lad might use to increase his chances of getting sweets from his parents.
“There’s a box of crackers you can have. Penguin said he’ll fish them up tomorrow. Please be quiet,” I said. “People down here are trying to sleep.”
“Alright, England. Good lookin’ out, dawg!"
“If we don’t catch you tomorrow, good luck, England,” Scooby said.
"Take care, England!”
“I hope to see yer soon, England!”
“Stay away from the cheetos, England!”
“Watch yer back out there, England!”
“Hey, England, fuck you, 'cause I’m still fuckin’ here and you’re leavin’,” Diego said.

At about 6am – before chow was served – a guard approached my cell. I was strip searched, handcuffed through the trap, and escorted through SMU2 to a holding cell to await the arrival of the transportation guards. To kill time, I meditated and did yoga. Four hours later I felt an urge.
“I need to pee,” I yelled through a crack at the side of the trap.
“Okay. Just a minute.”
I was handcuffed and escorted to the inmate restroom. After being uncuffed, I relieved myself with the guard stood behind me.
“You’ve been in there all morning. You want a lunch sack?” he asked, as I was returned to the holding cell.
“Yeah! That would be great. I haven’t eaten all day.” As it wasn’t a vegetarian lunch sack, I just ate the crackers and two pieces of brown bread.

Two hours later, I had given up hope of the transportation officers ever arriving. But at 1pm they came. One of them was a skinny, young African American who wore spectacles and spoke in an effeminate voice. His partner was a redneck with a deep voice. After another strip search, I was escorted from the building.

Farewell SMU, Penguin, Frankie, Barbarian, the young Chicanos, the shitslingers, the darters, the death row and the security-threat-group inmates. Another phase of this journey is over, I thought.

“Pick a seat, the bus is all yours,” the redneck said, as I entered the vehicle. I noticed a Glock holstered at his side.

When my eyes had adjusted to the sunshine, I was able to enjoy the desert and mountain scenery surrounding Florence. On either side of the highway, mountains protruded into an azure sky. Saguaros were everywhere; their horizontal branches made them look like a mrdieval army with swords drawn. Lizards and birds of prey put in occasional appearances.

As the locals drove by, all wearing sunglasses, I examined their rustic faces. I wondered what their everyday lives were like and if they were descendants of European families that had migrated eastwards and captured land from the Native Americans.

Approaching Phoenix, shiny new cars zipped past us. Drivers on cell phones became common. Housing developments and malls replaced the rural scenery. When I saw the areas where I used to live and hang out, I felt sad. I longed to turn back the clock and to be free again. The sight of the skyscraper I had worked in as a stockbroker, caused my mind to fill with memories:
long hours in the office, colleagues (mostly fiesty New York Italians), sales meetings, ruthless bosses, exciting times trading the stock market. How did I get from stockbroker to prisoner? I asked myself. A group of young women, smiling and carefree, came into view, and derailed my train of thought. But not for long. Perhaps I was meant to become a prisoner to achieve my full potential, I wondered.

Eventually we arrived at the exit for Buckeye. We headed south towards Yuma and I read a sign that said we were in the Buckeye Hills. Then another sign warned: DO NOT STOP FOR HITCHHICKERS, ARIZONA STATE PRISON. My anxiety went up. I reminded myself to be pleasant, but also to keep myself to myself as much as possible.

The bus pulled up to the prison’s main gate. I braced myself, as if I were getting onto a roller-coaster ride, for the types of things that happen when a fish arrives at a new prison.
...to be continued

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Crime & Punishment

I recently read an article in a newspaper ‘USA Today’, about America’s record prison population. The author, Richard Willing, used a quote in the article that made my blood boil:

‘The reason crime rates have fallen to levels we haven’t seen for 30 years, is due to the nationwide movement to keep habitual criminals behind bars.’
Michael Rushford, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

I am compelled to respond to Mr. Rushford’s deceptive twaddle.

Dear Mr. Rushford,
If you removed your habitual mental bars, you would see that America’s record prison population reflects a disease embedded in your society. Until your leaders eradicate the swamps in which the miasma of crime forms and breeds, lawlessness in America is going to persist and spread like leprosy. The public are becoming increasingly aware that the intimidation and slow-motion torture, which you call punishment, does not work. Your misleading slant on the record crime statistics is an insult to my intelligence. Until your chieftains cleanse the swampy soils of economic poverty, poor education and discrimination, and the enforced medication of young children, tension in American society is going to build and build.

I would like to refer you to a quote from the ‘Declaration of Principles’ adopted in 1870 by the leaders of what became the American Correctional Association:

‘The supreme aim of prison discipline is the reformation of criminals, not infliction of vindictive suffering.’

The cost of America’s senseless mass incarceration policy has sucked resources from the very services that could address the root cause of crime. Teachers, trainers, psychologists and sociologists should be flourishing in an enlightened society, not prison guards. If you and your leaders fail to address the smouldering stresses and strains – mark my words – you will have an erupting volcano on your hands, whose cinders and lava your sham policies helped to produce.
Yours sincerely, Jon
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09 Nov 04

Dear Nuala,

Does casting a man into prison compensate society for the wrongs he has done it?….. Such a man must be set free, if amends are to be made, and if he is freed there is none who would fail to make them, there is not a single man alive who would not prefer doing good to the necessity of living in chains.
Marquis de Sade (Source: Ernestine, A Swedish Tale 1788)

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07 Nov 04

The Rain Room Revisited

Aunty Ann had nightmares after reading the blog that described the showers at the Madison Street jail. ('Wankers' 06 May 04). Perhaps Aunty Ann should't read on.

On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings we are offered showers. After the breakfast chow is served the officer grunts,“Showers?”
“Two for showers,” is my standard reply. The same officer will then return at some random time between 7.30 and 9.30 am, and wake us up to take us to the showers. The officer opens the trap whilst we put on our flip-flops and orange jumpsuits, and grab our towels and soap. Individually, Penguin and I back up to the cell door and the guard handcuffs us through the trap. The door is unlocked and the officer yells, “Cell 27!” The guard in the control tower presses a button and our door slides open. One of us is instructed to go to the upper shower and the other to the lower one.

Upon arriving at one of the cells containing a shower, I wait outside until the guard in the control tower presses the button that opens the door. When it is open I step inside and the door slides shut. I am then unhandcuffed through the trap and handed a razor. The cell is tiny, dingy and dimly lit. There is no mirror to look at whilst shaving. I undress and hang my clothes upon a steel hanger that is screwed to the wall. I always inspect the floor and walls to see if there are any messes that need to be avoided. The lower shower drains much better than the upper one, so the amount of hair matted with semen is usually lower downstairs. Some semen is usually observable on the floors and walls of both showers.

A button activates the shower. The water runs at a comfortable temperature for around ten minutes. This provides enough time for a thorough soaping and a blind shaving session. It takes a few months to master shaving without being able to observe yourself. I have to feel my face to determine where the stubble is. I don't shave my head because I'm afraid of cutting my ears off. One time Penguin returned with a bleeding ear. On another occasion I sliced my Adam’s apple.

When the water stops we are at the mercy of the guards as to how soon they will return us to our cell. The average wait is 15 minutes, but there have been some occasions when Penguin and I were left in the showers for up to two hours. When left in the shower I often do the hula-hula yoga pose while looking at the black mould on the walls, and the tiny grey flies that seem to hop rather than fly. Some inmates get hysterical after being left inside there. Those that yell and bang on the door usually have their stays extended.

Before releasing us from the showers, the guards examine our razors to ensure that we have not extracted blades to make weapons. After this inspection we are handcuffed through the traps. The doors slide open and as we trudge back to our cell inmates taunt us:
“Did you shave your ass?”
“Did you step on my water babies?”
“We know what kind of yoga you’re doing in there!”
“Did you see my dead kids?”
“Did you find your anal G-spot?”

Upon returning to our cell we are released from our handcuffs through the trap.

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O5 Nov 04

Question Time?

Q. Jay asked if Frankie and I were ever an item?

Frankie did ask me to be his cellmate, but I politely declined. In lockdown it's not physically possible to have sex with anyone other than your cellmate. So becoming cellmates is the first step in that direction. The closest Frankie and I ever got was when we played chess through his cell window. During chess he would frequently put on an aching-for-sex look, whilst licking his lips and grinning. He would say things like, “Mmmm, Englandman, we should be cellies. Mmmm, Englandman, I’d like to turn you out. Let’s pretend that we’re back in the Roman days and I’m your Caesar. Mmmm, Englandman, the things that we could do. I’d get to watch you do naked yoga every night. Oh, Englandman, you turn me on.”
I assumed these remarks were part of his chess strategy until he started to send me love letters written in English and Spanish. I jokingly played along with his fantasies because he was at a safe distance. I didn’t realise that we might end up at the prison together. In his recent letters he has made it clear that he is looking forward to taking my anal virginity.

Q. Aunty Ann asked if I gave a hoot about the election and Bush and Kerry.

I’ll answer this question with a quote from the American historian Howard Zinn:
‘To give people a choice between two different parties and allow them...to choose the slightly more democratic one was an ingenious mode of control.’ *

*(Source: A People’s History of the United States 1492-Present)

Q. Emma asked about my taste in movies.

My favourite is Gladiator. My eyes went wet at the end of the film when the protagonist died to a beautiful trance tune. Another one I enjoyed is Silence of the Lambs - superb acting by Anthony Hopkins. Another is True Romance. It’s my favourite love story. Gary Oldman’s role as a sushi-eating pimp was extraordinary. It’s a brilliant film with an all-star cast.
I also enjoyed Heat, Killing Zowie, Goodfellas, The Godfather, and Casino . Regarding horror movies: any of the old Hammer Horror Films such as Dracula with Christopher Lee. Action movies: Pulp fiction, No U-turn. Mystery: Wild Things. Sci-Fi: Dune. Three movies I watched a lot are The Wall, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Clockwork Orange.

My favourite actors include Dennis Hopper, Harvey Keitel, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Gary Oldman, Al Pacino, Joe Peschi, Christopher Walken, Bruce Lee, Vincent Price. Actresses include the Arquette sisters, Juliette Lewis, and Denise Richards.
I tend to watch movies directed by Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarentino and Guy Ritchie.

Q. The question most asked by readers is whether have or will ever have Internet access during this incarceration.

No. The Arizona Department of Corrections does not permit inmates to have Internet access under any circumstances. I do not see that policy changing during my stay.

Your emails and comments are mailded to me by my parents. My responses are then sent back to my parents who then email them on, hence it takes weeks for me to get back to people. I apologise for the delays, but I have made my best efforts to reply to everyone who provided a return email address. The replies are brief because lots of people have emailed and I must consider my parents’ poor fingertips. Anyone who provides a physical address will get a longer reply, as I am able to write to her or him directly from prison at minimal expense. I deeply appreciate all of the correspondence. Reading your kind words helps keep a smile on my face. I am grateful for your continued interest in my blog. Thank you for all of the birthday cards and books as well!
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Jon’s address: Shaun Attwood ADC#187160
ASPC-Lewis, Morey 2-D-22

P.O. Box 3300,Buckeye,
AZ 85326, USA