01 Oct 08

Warrior v Big E. (by Warrior Part 1)

Warrior - Serving fourteen years for kidnapping and aggravated assault. Half Hispanic and Scottish-Irish with family still in Mexico. Brought up by a family steeped in drug commerce.
Guys in prison always feel they’ll eventually be able to lay their swords down, hang up their spurs, and not have to maintain the status quo when it comes to respect.
For some, their looks, size or reputation enables them to do so.
Unfortunately for me, I’ve never had such luck. It’s always been my looks that made me stand out to be tested. Even as a kid in school, I remember it being the same way. I’ve heard I look like a pushover, I’ve also heard the term “innocent." I never cease hearing, “You don’t look like you belong in prison,” even from C.O.s – whatever that means?
I know this is the reason Big E. chose me to be an outlet for his aggression.

Big E. stood for Big Ego. A Mexican cat about 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds. He had been around the system for a while. Earned his ink putting in work for the EME (Mexican Mafia). He was covered in prison ink from neck to toe. Aztec Warriors. Brown Pride. His gang shield. The traditional stuff. Old English on his back and stomach. He wore a pair of Maddoggers sunglasses that added to his disposition.

I had just touched down in Buckeye prison. Knew a couple of faces. Met some new ones.
One face I knew was a guy named Trip. Him and I did hole time together.
It’s always good to run into a familiar face you’re cool with from another unit. It helps your credibility as a solid dude when another solid dude can vouch for you. Plus it helps you get a lay of the land quicker. Who’s cool. Who’s a dope fiend. Who’s trouble. What cops are assholes, and which are cool and let us do our time.

My first day at rec, Trip and I walked a few laps.
“Damn it’s good to see you, dawg!” Trip said.
“Fuck, I know. I didn’t think I was ever gonna get outta the fuckin’ hole,” I said. “It’s good to see a familiar face.”
“I hear you, bro. Who’s still left over there?”
“Eagle, Monster, Spider are all stuck. Roy made it out to a yard though. He was happy. He’s over here around the way on a Level 3 yard.”
“Fuckin’ Roy! That’s cool,” Trip said. “The other cats stuck, huh? Tsk-tsk. That’s the name of the game though right: cops and robbers. How long you do in the hole?”
“Three fuckin’ years, homes,” I said. “I tell you, man, that last year was wearing on me mentally too. That sensory-deprivation shit ain’t no joke. A lot of hate was building up in me. I don’t know how those other dudes go ten years like that.”
“Those other dudes probably mad with hate by five years hole time,” Trip said. “By then, those fools can only function in the hole. Complete antisocial sociopaths. The really fucked-up shit is the system has no idea of the monsters they’re creating. As long as their pockets are full, all we’ll be is dollar signs.”
“I hear that. Fuck the system. It’s their Catch-22 one way or the other. Karma doesn’t discriminate. It goes after systems too.”
“Word has it a coupla dudes offed themselves?” Trip asked.
“Yeah. Four dudes in a month and a half. Two hung themselves by sheet. Two others cut their wrists. It was crazy. A youngster too. You shoulda seen it. Administration had the cops doing fifteen-minute walks to make it look good when the investigators came. But the minute the investigation was over, back to before.”
“Damn that’s dirty. That’s prison life though.”

Trip and I finished our catching up. He then introduced me to a group of dudes playing cards at the Independent Table. It was a table where all of the races go to play poker. Guys gamble money, drugs, property, even their homosexuals.

All the races had claim to one of three tables: blacks, whites, Mexicans. But the fourth was a neutral spot all the races agreed to and only meant for gambling – the Independent Table.
Gambling is big business in prison. Even in prison, green is acknowledged as the ultimate color, the color of money. Just another source of income for those “holding the keys” – the heads of the races running the yard.

At the Independent Table, all the guys had their shirts off as they took in the evening sun. By all the ink they displayed you could tell they were old numbers. Sleeved with swastikas and Vikings if they were white. Aztec Warriors and women if they were Mexican. The blacks had images of Africa and civil-rights leaders.
Trip introduced me to everyone, Big E. being one of them.
Everyone was cool and shook my hand except for Big E.. He looked me up and down, sizing me up. Everyone acted like they didn’t notice, but I’m sure they did.
I exchanged small talk with a few guys and then we were on our way.

“Hey, who’s that fool with the Maddoggers glasses?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s Big E.,” Trip said. “He thinks his shit don’t stink. I noticed him sizing you up.”
“You caught that too, huh. I can’t stand motherfuckers like that.”
“Well, you don’t look like a tough guy. That face, man,” Trip said jokingly.
“What I lack in looks, I make up in experiences, believe that!” I said, growing irritable.
“Hey, whoa, whoa…I’m not the one sizing you up there, killer. Maybe Big E. was having a bad day? Don’t take it personal, it’s too early to tell.”
“We’ll see,” I said.

I’d been down long enough to know when someone was about to test me. When it’s played out so many times, you become familiar with the signs.
I was thinking, Here we go again.I always hear from my buddies that I have this certain look that makes guys want to test me. To this day I don’t know what that look is.

I was on the push-up station doing some sets with a guy named Gangster. Just then Big E. and Ghost walked up. They started small talk with Gangster and asked to join in a couple of sets. Then the hostility talk began:
“I can’t stand fuckin’ chumps on this yard,” Big E. said, glancing at me.

If you were Warrior, how would you handle Big E.?

Click here for Warrior v Big E. Part 2

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Shaun Attwood
30 Sep 08

From T-Bone (Letter 8)

T-Bone - Radiating power and strength, this deeply-spiritual massively-built African American towers over most inmates. He is a prison gladiator with more stab wounds than Julius Caesar. A good man to have on your side.

Hey Brother,

What’s happening over there in the land of tea and biscuits? It’s hot here! I mean really hot in the Great Southwest, 112 degrees today so far.

Before I forget, never worry about me keeping it real with you, because I will always be there for you, brother! My friendship and honor are genuine.

Man, you can write and your ability to take people there with you is absolutely awesome. I really enjoyed the pictures you sent me.
I finally got the letter and blog I was waiting for and the reader comments were heart warming to say the least. Thank you, Suzanne!

I have a few things to say to the people who read Jon’s Jail Journal.

The most important thing you all need to know is that I am no angel. I’ve done a lot of things I wish I could take back. I’ve also done a lot of soul searching, and the choices I make now are made with the hope that I can help people who are weaker than I am. I do not involve myself in every situation because there are those in here who want to use people, for example, people who want to do dope and then come running to me for help because they can’t pay their dope bill. (Shaun knows what I am talking about.) I won’t get involved.

As for the cops, some have honor and some get involved in the crap that goes on in here. There’s this old saying that goes: “If you ever want to see the scum of the earth, go to a prison at the changing of the guard.” That saying does have merit, but then again there are a lot of sick men in here. Some sick because of this place. Others because of who they are. And those who play the games that they grew up with in their neighborhoods. They made their choices, not every situation is because of the system.

Chris H, thank you for what you said and yes I do need your help! Shaun will contact you.

I’d like to ask you all this: Haven’t we all found ourselves in a situation where we could make a difference in someone’s life for good or sometimes bad? Shaun, walked the yard with me and he saw the damage I inflicted on this one guy [indeed, Ogre’s cellmate, a big man but no T-Bone, looked like a train had hit him after provoking T-Bone] and was it necessary? Yes and no. Because of the situation, yes. But I will advise any and everyone to walk away if she or he can from any confrontation that isn’t necessary.

But know this: there are times when one has to stand up for the weaker. I’ve seen some nasty things, and most of the time it looks simple or innocent, for example, a guy walks up and gives another guy food and/or drugs or does another guy’s job or washes his clothes, and it’s all a mind game being played to rape him or to get him to have sex. To me it’s sick.
I’ve been put in so many situations to make a difference in people’s lives, you won’t believe the enemies I’ve made. But I have someone who watches my back – God!
I also keep a positive attitude and my plans are to go to work.
I am also coming across the pond to see my brother Shaun, and hopefully do some fishing and sight seeing as well as hiking.

Shaun there is so much more to say but to keep it simple stop going out and getting drunk. It’s uncool, man. You keep on keeping on and no getting drunk, brother. I do want you to understand the importance of that.
So how’s the Internet dating going, you old English hound you!
Say hi to your folks and keep up the good work, brother! You have my Love & Respect. I miss you, man!

Each one – Teach one

Strength + Honor


PS The fire that burns in your heart shows by the things you do. Let your mind spark you, the flame, into action!

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Shaun P. Attwood
26 Sep 08

The Royo Romance (Part 24)

Royo Girl - An intelligent and attractive criminology graduate who used to visit me in prison. Whether her interest is based on love or she is writing a thesis on my criminality is an open question. She's flying from Tucson to visit me for my birthday week in October.
Click here for Part 23.

I just got off the phone with Royo Girl:

“I’ve booked to come and see you at the end of October,” Royo Girl said.
“That’s great, “ I said. “I can’t wait to see you.”
“I’m super super looking forward to coming to England.”
“And seeing me of course?”
“On that point, I don’t know.” Royo Girl laughed mischievously. “I do know you’re fishing for a compliment so I can build up your ego.”
“Exactly. But when your ego's as big as mine, there is no room to build it up.”
“Oh, Shaun, of course I’m looking forward to seeing you.”
“Have you booked our hotel room in London yet?”
“No, not yet. But I’m going to spend three nights in London enjoying your company before we go to yours.”
“What do you fancy getting up to in London?”
“We’ll probably go out one or two nights.”
“Which entails what?”
“There’s some clubs and bars I like down there.”
“After all that hard work in Tucson, you’re coming to London to get wasted aren’t you?”
“We’ll see.”
“Did you decide what you’re going to wear for my birthday party on Halloween?”
“The official title of my outfit is Dark Angel.”
Oo, describe it please.”
“It consists of, basically, me looking like a Goth with black wings.”
“And your makeup?”
“Black lipstick. Black eyeliner. I can’t divulge too much at this point. You might get too excited.”
“How am I going to be able to control myself when I see my favourite criminology graduate who I'm finally getting to be around after all these years and she’s all gothed-up as a Dark Angel?”
“I dunno, Shaun, I dunno. I will make you behave yourself in front of your parents. I have the utmost respect for them. I think they’re great."
“So you’re saying we get to behave like wild animals in the hotel room?”
“We’ll be lucky if we make it out of the hotel room, Shaun.”

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Shaun P. Attwood
24 Sep 08

Ms. G (by Shane)

Shane - After being denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs he financed with burglaries. The medication in prison caused him to suffer a period of spontaneous ejaculations.
Shane is the author of the blog
Persevering Prison Pages.

In prison, I dissociate myself from all of the guards and most of the inmates. So much so it’s noticeable. I don’t do it to be rude or because I am one of those diehard Us vs. Them types. I don’t think of all guards as lesser or even not human. They are human just like you and me. Of course, I like some and dislike others. I just don’t show it. In fact, there are a few guards I like better than most of my fellow convicts. Now, I’ll explain why I don’t ever acknowledge guards on the yard.

In the late 90’s, I was an intake clerk in the clothing warehouse. I kept track of clothing issued to newly-arriving inmates on the unit. My supervisor was a female guard in her 30’s. Very attractive and a real sweetheart. Ms. G was a single mother just working to survive. We grew close.

One day I showed up at 7:00 AM for work and Ms. G called me to a quiet part of the warehouse. “Shane, I’ve got a serious problem,” she stated, nearly on the verge of tears.
“What’s up?” I asked her.
“I got a note from somebody today who says I’m going to bring in a package and leave it in my trashcan here. The note was on my car window at home, Shane!” she confided in me, panic in her voice and expression.

I knew exactly who and what this was about as soon as I heard it. The Aryan Brotherhood was planning to use her to get their drugs in. It wasn’t a request either.
“Let me see what’s up. Don’t do anything,” I told her. I knew that she was in deep trouble. If she reported it, she’d put herself and her kid in danger. If she just didn’t do it, same results. I wasn’t sure what I could do, if anything, but I had to do something. An extremely dangerous choice I made.

Arranging a meeting with the yard’s shot-caller turned out to be a real pain in the ass. You don’t just walk up and talk to the Aryan Brotherhood's shot-caller. There’s a chain of command in the prison-gang hierarchy. I started at the peon level and couldn’t get any higher.

“You and her got something going. We see her bring you food in and share stuff. We know you two are screwing,” the peon told me. “We just want in on the action.”
I couldn’t argue, she did look out for me. She brought food and drinks in everyday and shared with me, but the screwing part was bullshit. We had never. It never even came up.
“Listen closely, she won’t do it. And if anybody has a problem with that, we can deal with it,” I told the peon, beyond frustrated with it all.

I’m gonna get us both killed, I worried on my way back to my cell. I was worried more about Ms. G and her kid than myself, but I did fear taking a shank in the back myself, too.

Hurriedly, I taped National Geographic magazines around my midsection. A great stab vest. While I was doing this, my next-door neighbor happened to glance in my cell. My next-door neighbor, the shot-caller for the Skinheads. “What the fuck, Shane?” he asked.
I’d never spoke to the young, bald white supremist. Skinheads and me usually didn’t get along. We have conflicting beliefs.
“You goin’ to war or what?” he questioned, coming in my cell and closing the door. His strong presence was intimidating. My natural reaction was to stand up and ready myself to fight. “We don’t have a beef, relax,” the Skin told me, “What’s the deal, Shane?”
Still on guard, I told him my situation. I knew it was risky and could make things worse, but what the hell…
“Here. Sit still. I’ll be back,” the Skin told me, handing me a shank then leaving my cell.

Ten minutes later, two Skinheads came to my cell. At first, I panicked, standing and pulling the steel from my waistband. When the two held up their hands in mock surrender, I relaxed a little. The three of us idly shit-chatted until my neighbor returned, with another Skin tagging along. The tag-along worried me. He had a bright red swastika on his head, and red lightning bolts. He was a torpedo. A foot soldier. Red inked for drawing blood. Earned I’m sure.
“Don’t worry about your problem. It’s a dead issue,” my neighbor told me. I knew that he meant it and it was true.

I went and ran the story down to Mrs. G. She was visibly relieved, but probably still worried.

The next morning at breakfast, two Skins passed me in the chow line, steel at ready. Halfway up the line, I spotted the Aryan Brotherhood’s peon I’d spoken to yesterday. Without any forewarning, the Skins moved behind him and began stabbing. People began scrambling to get out of the way and the Skins disappeared in the crowd. Seconds later they brushed past me heading back to the cells. Blood on their hands, shirts and pants. Eyes on the floor as they passed, I noticed specks of blood on their boots and bright white laces. Only then did I realize they were “Straight-laced” Skinheads. A dying breed. Skins that hate drugs.

Turns out, the Aryan Brotherhood never authorized the move on Ms. G, or at least wouldn’t claim they did, so they green lighted the Skins to deal with the peon who was behind it.

Shaken by the whole incident, Ms. G. quit a week later. The peon lived, but never returned to the yard.

The incident scared the shit out of me. I felt at fault for socializing with Ms. G and letting us become more than guard and inmate. I never heard from her again and never allowed myself to even consider such a thing again.

Did Shane do the right thing in risking his life to protect Ms. G?

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Copyright © 2008 Shaun P. Attwood
22 Sep 08

Weird Al At Large

Weird Al - The most unlikely bank robber you are ever likely to meet. His true story of suicide by cop gives new meaning to the power of unchecked depression. His cutting wit would make a stoic monk giggle.

I called Weird Al at his apartment in Tucson where he is on parole.

“Greetings from your favourite Limey!” I said.
“I’ve got a joke I’ve been waiting to tell you,” Weird Al said.
“What is it?”
“What’s bald, lives in a garage – with an en suite bathroom of course – and worships me like a God?”
“That’s a tricky one, Al.”
“Yes, it’s you, the bloke!”
“Life in the garage is going pretty well actually. I haven’t had any urges to commit more crimes. How about you? Planning your next bank robbery?”
“I haven’t had any big urges to commit more crimes – short of killing maybe an Englishman. You’d better look out, I’m in the process of getting a new passport.”
“What did you do on your first day of freedom?”
“Watched the football and ate ice cream.”
“What flavour ice cream?”
“Moose Tracks.”
“Vanilla with chunks of chocolate. Then I spent my first night sleeping on an air mattress in this apartment.”
“So how does freedom feel?”
“Well, it’s overrated. For example, every time I go to a restaurant or grocery store, everyone wants money from me.”
“At least your not on the dole. Are you going to get back into real estate investment?”
“It’s probably a good time to buy. All those fools who paid five-hundred thousand and their homes are worth three-hundred thousand are sucking the hind tit now.”
“Yes, I advised my aunt to sell short, and she made a killing last week.”
“You’ll have to show me how to sell short. I am a vulture.”
"We started out shorting Bank of America."
"That's my bank, you bastard!"
"The one you robbed?"
"Er...yes. Didn't they make short selling illegal?"
"Just bank stocks, so for my aunt, I'm shorting foreign telecoms into this suckers' rally. Are you still doing Siddha yoga and becoming more enlightened?”
“Yes, I just went to the local ashram. I’m more enlightened than ever. I was enlightened enough to come home today and eat Moose Tracks and watch a film. I also went to the library and read about what’s been going on with your blog.”
“What do you think of the Arizona Department of Corrections blocking inmates from writing to me?”
“They’ve gone way too far. But I don’t think it’s come from the top. I think it’s some asshole at Tucson prison that’s taken it upon himself to rewrite the United States Constitution. The funny thing is Dora Schriro [the prison director] prides herself on preparing inmates to be released into a country founded on free speech. Censorship policy may well prepare you for life in a Communist country, but not here. Dora Schriro should take time out – she teaches constitutional law at Arizona State University – to actually read the Bill Of Rights and Constitution herself. What exactly are they afraid of by stopping your mail? Obviously not the huge amounts of readily-available heroin in the prison. Obviously not the large number of Arizona prisoners dying due to a lack of competent medical care. Why don’t they correct these problems as opposed to censoring you away. The fact is DOC doesn’t do anything competently. Try as they might, Arizona prisoners will still do this despite anything they do. You know how inventive they are. I can think of at least a hundred ways around this. Since DOC is trying to ban you from the airwaves, may I suggest you reinvent yourself?”
“As what?”
“Bertie Wooster aka Hugh Laurie comes to mind. I’ll play the role of the all-knowing Jeeves aka Stephen Fry and we can use nice British sayings like ‘Toodle-pip!’ I also like the name Gussie Fink-Nottle.”
“Very good, bloke.”
“I’ve also discovered another new saying.”
“What is it?”
“Boner shrinker.”
“Oh dear. Have you used it yet?”
“No, but I’m working on it.”
“A final question: have you noticed any major changes in the world since you’ve been inside?”
“Yes! Young women everywhere are all wearing tongue piercings. I have had it confirmed by reliable unimpeachable sources as to why they are doing this, and I’ve taken it upon myself to personally thank each one of them for caring. I’m thinking of founding a non-profit organisation to help low-income girls get tongue piercings.”
“Good idea, bloke. Toodle-oo for now!”
“Yes. Toodle-pip, blokester!”

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Shaun P. Attwood
18 Sep 08

From Frankie (Letter 9)

Frankie - A Mexican Mafia hitman and leader of prison "booty bandits" who has been proposing our gay marriage ever since he saw me rubbing antifungal ointment on my bedsored buttocks at the Madison Street jail. He was there on murder charges he subsequently beat. He was recently moved from the super-maximum prison housing Arizona's death row to Tucson jail awaiting sentencing on charges he picked up in prison.

Frankie is writing from Pima County jail (not part of the Arizona Department of Corrections) in Tucson. Because he’s from a gang in Phoenix, he has to be careful of the rival gang members from Tucson who are running the Tucson jail.


Englandman My Friend,

I received your letter in which it’s always good to hear from you.

As for this case…yes! It has squeezed the vida loca out of me. But it’s not something you do overnight.
For example, I get here in this county jail and as I walk in a few guys come up to me and give me a hug and shake my hands. “How you doing OG?” That means Original Gangster.
Then you’ve got a couple of guys that are calling shots for the pod I’m in and looking at me like I owe them. So off the top, I already know these fools are trying to figure out who am I and what am I doing in their county if I’m from Phoenix.
I’ve been in this jail for thirteen days, and there’s been a lot of tension between us, but as usual these guys made one big mistake by not taking care of business from day one. I have now put together a four man crew, slowly but surely I’m building a wall around me. It’s no guarantee but it will help me to a certain extent.

Here we come out 3 times a day and at dinner while everyone is eating out in the run, I eat in my cell with the door open. I have been invited to sit and eat with the Mexican Warriors at their table, but no thanks, as last time I took a piece of steel in the back of my neck. At least in my cell I can see what’s coming my way and get myself ready for battle.
Frankie needs to stay a step ahead of the gang games at all times cuz it would be a sad story if you read Frankie Goes To Tucson And Gets Killed.
Englandman, would you cry for me?

As for the jail here, the food is top of the line stuff. Nothing like your friend Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Ha! Ha!
Every Friday they even give us a bag of popcorn and a R.C. Soda.
Now! The guards ain’t nuthin’ nice. They will rush you quick when they tell these guys to lock it down. The inmates will run and lock-down. One thing about here, the guards don’t play. So the best thing for that is to stay away as far as you can from the guards.

By the way, I have this white dude for my celly, goes by the name Popeye. Ain’t got no teeth and looks like Popeye. He’s forty eight years old and from Texas.

Englandman, good job on winning a prize for your shit slinger story. What’s the prize? My friend, I have the best shit slinger stories from SMU1 and SMU2 [two supermaximum-security prisons in Florence]. Did you know that I was thrown on before by those nasty motherfuckers? I will tell you some stories when I get back, okay?

My friend, I’m hoping and praying for the lesser time that I can get sentenced to. Like I said, I have had it with the vida loca. But it gets harder trying to leave it.
By the time you get this letter I should already be sentenced. I shall tell you how it all goes once I’m back at Florence cuz I honestly don’t have the stamps. I wrote one of your blog readers asking for a little help just to buy me writing stuff, and he blew me off. It’s okay, that’s life in this crazy world. Ain’t too many people that understand this life. They think we’re out to get them.
I have money at Florence. It’s that the money on my account didn’t follow me to this jail. Like I said, no biggie! Que no?

Anyway, did you send the cards to Noelle? Has she mentioned anything about writing me?

Englandman, I’m sending you my brother’s obituary. It’s for you to keep. I have one for myself.
As always, send my Love & Regards to your mom & dad and especially that beautiful sister of yours.

Much Love & Respect

Mr. Frankie!

P/S In six days I’ll know the outcome of my sentence

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Shaun P. Attwood
16 Sep 08

BBC Radio 5 Live Pods and Blogs

I was interviewed by Chris Vallance of the BBC last night about the Arizona Department of Corrections’ attempt to sabotage Jon’s Jail Journal by illegally blocking inmates from writing to me.

Below is the link for the podcast. To hear the interview scroll down to latest Pods and Blogs’ episode and click on download episode. (It’s the episode dated September 16th which starts out with the description: The continuing turmoil in the US markets and a new device that could let us hear every word on the football pitch.) My interview commences about five minutes into the show.


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14 Sep 08

Drugs (by T-Bone)

T-Bone - Radiating power and strength, this deeply-spiritual, massively-built African American towers over most inmates. He is a prison gladiator with more stab wounds than Julius Caesar. A good man to have on your side.

This is to the individual who said she or he needed help to stop using drugs.
Have you ever asked yourself why it’s called dope? Well, when I was growing up a lot of the OG’s used to say, “Look at those dopes over there doing poison just to feel dopey.”
I called it a “high,” but as I came to reflect on what I was doing, I realized the truth: dope does nothing for you at all! It causes you not to be real in all experiences in your life, from being awake to sex.
Once you allow yourself to become addicted to pot, coke, heroin, or any pill, it will take a spiritual rebirth to heal you, to reshape your thinking, and to rebuild your life.

The ancient Greeks called it pharmakia – the use of potions, powders, drugs, spells or enchantments! They understood it was and still is a spiritual battle.
There are some people who won’t accept this, but you must have a complete understanding of the truth before you listen to others.
When you become addicted, there is something evil inside you.

Have you ever heard anyone say that she or he is really cool when they’re not doing dope or high? Also, there is no such thing as recreational drug use, only dope use.

Now here are some hardcore facts.
You are killing yourself doing that poison, period! Stand up right now and make a choice, be a woman or a man, do the right thing for yourself! In other words, turn to God, he will help you! If not God, there are other ways to get help.
There are times when you have issues that cause you to hide behind dope. Fear and doubt has never helped anyone, neither has pain.
Don’t make excuses or rationalize what you’re doing. Keep it real and love yourself!
We all must grow up. Get a foundation and build on that foundation and grow.
Choose life and live free of the chains of fear and dope.
There are a lot of people going through the pain of drug and alcohol addiction who want to be able to talk to someone who once had the same problem. Find someone to talk to and let loose all of that unneeded pain and fear and doubt.

My foundation is God, and his love (that’s who he is) has strengthened me to turn away from drugs and the evil thinking that is associated with it. There will always be thoughts and the temptation of doing drugs and the evil that comes with it. But I turn to him for strength and guidance and he gives it to me through his spirit.

Be at peace and don’t worry, tomorrow is another beautiful day to live!

I hope this helps, and if not, let me know.


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Copyright © 2008 Shaun P. Attwood
11 Sep 08

Link to the Sky News Interview

Last night, I was interviewed by Martin Stanford on Sky News. Going live to millions of viewers for the first time was nerve-racking. I was amped-up all night.

Due to a commercial break, I was unable to finish responding to Martin’s final question about why I was continuing the blog, so here’s the remainder of my answer:

The blog was a lifeline for me and a lifeline I promised to keep going for my friends in prison. I intend to do my utmost to keep that lifeline open and to keep their voices being heard on the Internet. Thank you for this opportunity to bring the plight of my friends in prison to a much wider audience.

Here’s the link to the video of the interview:


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10 Sept 08

Sky News

I'm scheduled to appear live on the main Sky News TV station tonight (7:15pm UK time, 11:15am in Arizona).

Sky News has millions of viewers and can be watched on the Internet:



Thank you for all of the emails of support since the Arizona Department of Corrections tried to sabotage Jon’s Jail Journal by banning prisoners from writing to me. It is my hope that this publicity will help the plight of my friends inside.

This isn't the first time the Arizona Department of Corrections has blocked prisoners from the Internet. I just found this article online:

Arizona was the first and only state to erect a total blockade between its inmate population and the Internet -- and the first state to get trounced in court for trying to keep prisoners offline. The Arizona Legislature was stirred to act on the issue by the anguish and outrage of the widow of a murder victim, who came across a Web page on a pen pal site in which Beau Greene, her husband's killer, portrayed himself as a kindly lover of cats.

The result was a
law enacted in 2000 that threatened to strip privileges and possibly lengthen the prison sentence of any inmate in Arizona who gained access to the Internet by any means, or for that matter, merely "corresponds or attempts to correspond with a communication service provider or remote computing service." It would even be illegal, the law brashly declared, if any other person accessed a prisoner Web service "at the inmate's request."

Prison authorities in Arizona asserted that the law not only protected the rights of victims, it also reduced a security risk and a growing administrative burden.
"Inmates used to have two or three pen pals," a spokesman for the department complained. "Now they can run it up into the hundreds," thanks to the growing number of Web-based pen pal services for prisoners.

The wilier inmates use one of a dozen or more sites such as
Prison Pen Pals or Outlaws Online to garner more than mail, officials added. They coax money out of people on false pretenses and lure them into intense but duplicitous personal relationships.
Numerous lonely hearted women initially drawn in by a Web page have flocked from as far away as Belgium and Australia to Florence, Ariz., and its cluster of prisons, officials said. One of them once went so far as to obtain a gun and vehicle that was used in an escape attempt. While inmates can perpetrate scams through the regular mail, it is much easier via the Internet, the department and its lawyers maintained in defense of the law.

Judge Earl Carroll of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix wasn't buying it. In May 2003 he declared the Arizona law unconstitutional. Abusive Web postings that taunt victims, promote crime or attempt to defraud others can be stopped with existing regulations that prohibit inmates from sending or receiving that sort of material through the regular mail, the judge noted.

David Fathi, senior staff counsel for the
ACLU National Prison Project, represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that toppled the Arizona law -- the Canadian coalition, a pen pal Web service and a Los Angeles-based organization called Stop Prisoner Rape.
"We argued that any legitimate interest that the prison system had in keeping inmates off the Internet was already covered by regulating the prisoners' incoming and outgoing mail," Fathi said. "The state doesn't have a legitimate interest in preventing someone from Canada, Sweden or New York from posting material on their Web site."

Besides stopping the occasional abusive posting, the Arizona law shut off Web writing that served an important public purpose, the ACLU noted, citing Stop Prisoner Rape as a case in point. On its Web site, the group, which advocates for changes in the law to address a little-noticed problem, publishes "
survivor stories" written by victims of prison rapes. The group aims to "change public attitudes about sexual assault behind bars and put a human face on the issue instead of allowing it to be trivialized and made into a joke," said Alex Coolman, communications coordinator for the advocacy group.

No other state has followed in Arizona's footsteps and attempted an all-out prohibition on Internet access by inmates. "They have wisely realized that is not constitutionally permissible to prevent free people from putting material on their Web site," Fathi said.

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07 Sep 09

Arizona Department of Corrections' Illegal Sabotage of Jon’s Jail Journal

Since my release last December, I have mostly posted correspondence and stories mailed to me from my friends in prison. By steering Jon’s Jail Journal in that direction, I’ve been able to help prisoners communicate with the outside world and experience the pleasure of blogging – which was a real lifeline for me when I was a prisoner.

On Saturday, I received a disturbing email from a family member of one of my prison friends:

I wanted to let you know that *** called me today with a message for you. I guess the prison spoke to all of the guys that write to you and told them they are not allowed to write to you anymore. He thinks it's because they (the prison) don't like what is being said on your blog. It is a free country isn't it? Can they do that? It's ridiculous!

A friend sent me an email quoting a letter received from another prisoner whose correspondence I post:

I was told today that I am not allowed to write to Shaun. I tried to mail him a letter and was told I can't communicate with him. Please let him know. The mail and property officers both said I am not allowed to write to Shaun. I asked for the letter back, and was told that all of my outgoing mail would be opened and inspected. They just better mail it or I'll see them in court.

The Arizona Department of Corrections has prohibited my prison friends from writing to me. This is a blatant attempt to sabotage Jon’s Jail Journal, and a violation of these prisoners’ rights, including free speech.

Shortly before my release, a certain mood came over my prisoner friends, some of who are never getting out. Individually, they said that most prisoners who get released forget about the friends they made inside. They all had stories to tell about promises of help made by such prisoners, promises that were never kept.
I promised each of my prisoner friends that I would never let them down like that. I promised to keep blogging their correspondence and stories, to keep mailing them copies of blogs and your comments, to keep generating them pen pals, and to keep this bridge open between them and the outside world.

To help me keep my promise to them and to combat this violation of their rights, I am seeking your suggestions and assistance. I am one man pitted against the vast resources of the Arizona Department of Corrections. Your ideas are welcome, and if you are in the legal and media professions, I think publicity and legal action would be a good start.

At this crucial moment in time for Jon’s Jail Journal, all I am asking for is your help in ensuring that my prisoner friends do not go forgotten and their voices continue to be heard.

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10 Jun 06

Flashback to Tucson Prison: Ogre v Two Tonys

Two Tonys - A whacker of men and Mafia associate serving multiple life sentences for murders and violent crimes. Left bodies from Tucson to Alaska, but claims all his victims "had it coming."

Ogre - A burly biker from California who accidentally stabbed his wife in the knee, and seems to be a classic case of prison pharmacology gone wrong. He claims to have seduced Jenny McCarthy and got high with Pamela Anderson.

Here’s what happened after
Two Tonys threw Ogre in the dirt.

I was working with Two Tonys on his life story when Ogre charged into his cell. “I want words with you, you old bastard! Why are people on the yard sayin’ you pulled a tae kwon do move and threw my ass in the dirt?”
Sitting on his bunk, Two Tonys raised a finger at Ogre as if scolding an errant child. “Wait a minute, motherfucker. First of all, this is my fuckin’ home. Don’t ever barge in here again like that, motherfucker. And second of all, lemmetellya somethin’: when you’re mad like this, you’re a handsome devil. When ya get out, I’ve got some connections in Hollywood I’m gonna send ya to, ’cause ya remind me of an old actor called Lon Chaney who played some characters that look just like you when ya get angry.”
“Who the fuck is Lon Chaney, you old motherfucker? Whatthafuck’s that got to do with you tellin’ people on the yard that you threw my ass in the dirt?”
“Hey, relax, dude. It was what it was. Was your ass in the dirt? Did ya hafta get up and wipe yer ass off? Was I still standin’?”
Ogre leaned forward as if about to fall on and crush Two Tonys. “That’s ’cause I happened to slip, motherfucker. You know how it went down. You didn’t throw me nowhere!”
“Bring one motherfucker in here who said I did say I threw yer ass down. People saw whatthafuck they saw. You’ve got so many enemies on the yard, they probably wanted me to throw yer ass in the dirt, ya big-headed motherfucker. Why ya gotta come bargin’ in here when I’m talkin’ to my Brit friend. You’d better thank God I ain’t got my pistols, ’cause I’d of shot yer sorry ass six fuckin’ months ago. Outside of that: do ya want a cup of coffee?”
“I’m tellin’ you, you didn’t throw my ass in the dirt, and I’ve gotz my own fuckin’ coffee! I’m not drinkin’ with you, you old motherfucker! I oughta just snap your neck and take your fuckin’ coffee.”
“Goddam, bro. Can’t we all just get along? Whatthafuck’s the problem here? Ya wanna kill the Two Tonys, is that what ya wanna do, you big-headed motherfucker?”
“That’s exactly what I’m gonna do if you continue to make me look like a punk by telling people you threw me in the dirt.” Ogre stormed out, slamming the door behind him.
“Ogre’s getting out of control,” I said. “Maybe it’s time for the psych doctor to change his meds again.”
“Everybody’s gotta vent.” Two Tonys smiled wisely. “Let the motherfucker vent.”

06 Sep 08 The Arizona Department of Corrections is attempting to shut Jon's Jail Journal down. I will post more details on Monday after I have considered my legal options.

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Copyright © 2008 Shaun P. Attwood
03 Sept 08

T-Bone v Monkey (by T-Bone Part 2)

T-Bone - Radiating power and strength, this deeply spiritual, massively built African American towers over most inmates. He is a prison gladiator with more stab wounds than Julius Caesar. A good man to have on your side.

In Part 1, Monkey, an expert in a West African style of fighting where they study animals such as the monkey, put T-Bone in the infirmary.

Monkey was part of the crew I used to be a part of. You do remember that he smashed me (kicked my ass). This story is hard for me because I had great respect for Monkey, and not because he kicked my ass, but because he had taken an oath, the same as I.
Monkey was a powerful man, partly because he was the same size as most people and they felt more comfortable with him and they weren’t jealous of his looks.

I was given orders to go “handle Monkey.” I looked at the Elephant (leader) and he said, “Drag him in the street.”
I thought of everything I could to get out of the order, but I’d took the oath of conduct and that meant I would be held accountable for my actions period!
The man running the yard was a serious disciplinarian and he’d put the gun to my head so to speak.
So off I went to the other building, and man was I scared. I gave the cop a story, and he went into a back room while I went to Monkey’s cell.
Monkey was there with this young white kid sitting between his legs and two other white guys who were selling the kid to him for a gram of dope.

I couldn’t believe what was going on. Even today when I look back at that scene I become sick to my stomach.
Monkey had three ounces of coke, eight grams of heroin, half a pound of weed and all kinds of pills and money. He had thousands of dollars and he had protection from the guards. You know what I’m saying.
I asked him what he was doing, and he said that he was on his own and that I should join his new crew, and that he’d pay me one grand a month until I was out.
You would not believe the temptation at that moment in time. I stopped and smiled.
He asked the people to leave and we talked.
He said he felt used by the crew and that he wanted to live.
I asked him how is this living.

His eyes changed, and he tried to hit me in the throat.
I blocked his knife hand, and hit him upside the head, knocking a lot of his dope and money to the floor.
He was on one knee, out of it but not out. He'd been on the juice [steroids] and now weighed about 200 even. He was high on dope, and I mean high on it, he was on one!

Before I could take care of him, three guys who were punks rushed me from behind. They couldn’t get down (couldn’t fight). I threw those punks around like they were rags and kicked and beat them silly until two of them were begging me to stop.
I threw them out and turned on Monkey.

Monkey was coming out of the power punch I'd hit him with.
He says to me that I could have the young white boy because he still had a virgin ass.
I kicked him in the chest (left lung) and called for the kid.
I asked the kid how long he’d been there.

He said two days, and started to tell me about his crime before I could even ask him anything else. He had a girlfriend that was 14 when he was 17, and her father caught them in the act of youthful indiscretion.

Those fellas on the yard were taking advantage of the young man’s inability to understand what the situation was really about! He was considered a child molester. So they were selling him for dope and the kid was out of his mind with fear.
I told him to shut up and to go to church and to get out.

Monkey had faked being truly hurt and was waiting for an opening. He had gotten his weapon and I was still feeling sorry for the kid when Monkey jumped up, and I mean jumped up just like a monkey, and cut me behind the left ear. I call it cut because of pride, but it did penetrate and cause me to lose focus. Then he kicked me in my most sensitive area, my jewels! I was blind with pain and man there is a God, Monkey tried to stab me in the neck and missed. He kneed me in the face and all I could do at that moment was grab him. I got a hold of him and – my instincts took over because of my training – his left arm was mine. So I got his hand and put him in a triangle. I gave it all I was worth. He was out in about 15 to 20 seconds, and I let go.

I went to the door to see what the cops were doing, and they weren’t in the control tower. I had to sit because my head and privates were on fire.
That piece of scum was coming to, so I hit him in the nose, grabbed his neck (throat) and I was going to take his life because he tried to kill me, and then God came into my heart and I let go. I picked him up to his feet, and smashed him with an elbow to his forehead. I let him bleed, that piece of shit!
Anyways, I told him to take off his clothes. When he did, I hit him on the chin, right out the door, knocked out. I left him there as everyone else who wasn’t locked down did so. I took the dope and money and left.

I went to the old man and he told me that he sent me because he wanted me to redeem myself and because he knew that I would handle things because of my dislike of rapists and the like.
I gave him the dope and money and asked, “How long has that kind of behavior been going on?”
He said for 17 days. Apparently Monkey covered it up by giving out dope.
The old man wanted to give the yard to me but I only looked at him.
He said, “If you get out [of the crew], you’ll be on your own and you’ll have a lot of enemies.”
But that’s another story.

Monkey went to the hole and fell in love with his own hand, and ended up in a place no one wants to go to: the prison loony farm.

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Copyright © 2008 Shaun P. Attwood
01 Sep 08

First Prize Koestler/Hamish Hamilton Award

Last Thursday, I received a call from London that made my day. The caller said I’d won the first prize in the annual Koestler Awards short story fiction category for my entry “Amazing Grace.” It’s a Hamish Hamilton Award and the judges were staff from the publishing company Random House.
Erwin James, a lifer who became an author and journalist, won first prize in the annual Koestler Awards for prose in 1995. While in prison, I enjoyed his book A Life Inside.

“Amazing Grace” is a story I wrote while at Tucson prison about the conflict between a youngster and a “shit slinger.” It’s set in the Violence Control Unit, which houses the most dangerous prisoners and is far worse than the hole

A lady at The Koestler Trust said I now qualify for a program financed by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation whereby a professional author can mentor me. She also invited me to be guest at this year's Koestler Exhibition at the Southbank Centre on the ground floor of the Royal Festival Hall in London. Admission is free, and the festival runs from 27 September to 8 November. I expect to be there in October. I’ll post the dates when I know exactly. Perhaps I’ll get to do my first reading there.

I also received tragic news from London last week. My literary agent died of ovarian cancer. She was only in her early forties. It’s hard to believe I was drinking wine with her last Christmas, toasting our future success together, and now she’s gone. She helped mature my prose, and while I was in prison, her and my sister, Karen, worked hard on a book based on Jon's Jail Journal for almost three years. She had intended to introduce that book to publishers at the London Book Fair last April, but she became ill just before it.

Meanwhile, I continue to work feverishly on my autobiography. Chapter 1 starts with the authorities smashing my door down. I’ve divided the story into two threads. The odd chapters are about my arrest and journey through Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system prior to the blog, the dangers and characters I met along the way, and how incarceration led to introspection and personal development. The even chapters cover how I went from a penniless illegal alien to award-winning stockbroker to running a rave empire that went up against the Ecstasy ring run by the Mafia underboss, Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, whose gang tried to kidnap me.
I’ve had no professional help with the autobiography. I've recently polished some chapters up to send to publishers and literary agents in America, perhaps the best home for my story.

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2008 Shaun P. Attwood