Sheriff Joe Arpaio Tortures Inmates with Endless Xmas Elvis Tunes (by Long Island)

Long Island - Promising young cellmate I taught to trade the financial markets. Released on the 11th of December '05 and rearrested February ’08. Alleged to have committed forgery and hit an officer with a car. He’s writing from Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Lower Buckeye jail.

Guess what Arpaio is doing to us now and has been doing throughout the month of December? He shut off every TV in every pod and pumped in Elvis Presley’s Christmas music over and over, starting at 6am and ending at 10pm. It’s the same songs over and over and at top volume all day long. It’s absolutely maddening. I feel like I’m at Gitmo getting interrogated by the C.I.A.

Arpaio often claims to have personally arrested Elvis: “My best arrest was Elvis Presley, but I let him go. I took him down to the police station. I guess he conned me out of giving him a ticket. That was in 1957.” Asked if Elvis gave him tickets to his Las Vegas show, Arpaio said, "No, but he gave ten Cadillacs to narcotics detectives around the country, but I never got one."

The website Overthrow Arpaio states that such claims by Arpaio “suggest a serious mental problem.”

Happy New Year Everyone! 

Holiday Post (by Polish Avenger)

Polish Avenger – A software-engineering undergraduate sentenced to 25 years because his friend was shot dead during a burglary they were both committing. Author of the classic "Shit Slinger" series.

I must extend an apology to everyone for the length of time it’s taken since the last post. I was called away on company business – ha! My day job here is that of secretary at our onsite construction school. Our warden strolled in one day and informed us that we had exactly three weeks to construct a float for the big Veteran’s Day parade in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. A float huge enough to hold ten people. From scratch.
What’s more, this couldn’t be just some token slap-together junk wagon, no, they expected quality.
Ulp! No pressure, eh? Not to mention that our collective parade-float-building experience was precisely zilch. Well, time to learn, yes?

A local credit union sponsored the raw materials: great 12 foot (4m) blocks of Styrofoam and assorted carving tools. Being a fine art painter by trade, I figured sculpture would be easy. Just channel your inner Greek marble mason and away you go!
I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Ten hours later, I was stood in a small mountain of Styrofoam particles. The stuff gets everywhere – it’s horrible! My masterpiece WWII soldier resembled…a crippled chicken. It was madness! The more I carved, the worse it got. The other fellows were having great success, so I finally had to acknowledge the inevitable, inescapable, irremediable conclusion: I suck at this.

Thankfully there were plenty of things to paint. Leaving that godforsaken uncooperative Styrofoam to more capable hands, I unpacked the lovely little paint gun they sent us. I caressed its stainless-steel curves as if it were a naked woman. I really love to paint! Before long, I was engaged in the fine ballet of air hose and spray gun, clothes splattered, hands dripping primer, at one with the universe and never happier.

We were cleared to work 14-hour shifts until the deadline. The instant coffee and hand-rolled cigarettes and sugary pastries came out, and we put the convict machinery into top gear.

Seventeen of us put in 196 hours each, for a total of some 3,300 man-hours. The float was spectacular. The Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections himself rode on it, and remarked to news cameras that it was a work of art.
I had to agree.
And so did the judges, as we won best in category.
The warden brought the trophy down, so we could all take a group photo with it. I for one felt privileged that time and circumstances had allowed me to participate in such an excellent tribute.

Now we’re converting it into a Christmas float by adding a Styrofoam Santa and 4000 colored lights to be used in the 2010 Fiesta of Lights Electric Light Parade.

And so that’s why there haven’t been many posts from me recently. But never fear, good readers, our float orgy is nearly complete and I have many more tales of Magnum and other demented misfits to share in 2011.

Happy holidays to all!

Previous Xmas Posts:
2009 in Germany
2008 Xmas Holidays in a Women’s Prison
2007 in England shortly after my release
My release December 2007 part 1
My release December 2007 part 2
2006 Xmas with Two Tonys
2006 Xmas Day Blog
2005 Xmas visits from my parents

A Christmas Eve poem from an anonymous inmate

Merry Xmas Everyone! Thanks for supporting Jon's Jail Journal and our friends inside!
Battle of the Waterstone's

Mum and I arrived at Wigan hoping to beat the sales record set in Warrington. It didn’t look likely at first as we were told that the store would be so busy, there was no room for a table to sell our books from, that no flyers had been printed up, and the store no longer had a copy of the email containing our flyer. Some copies of Hard Time had been placed at the end of the checkout counter, completely out of view of the incoming shoppers, and we were told to operate from there. After 20 minutes of not selling a single book, my agitation rose to the point where I began lobbying for a table. The manager was eventually summoned, and a large table near the door laden with Xmas offers was cleared. As soon the display of jail outfits was set up, shoppers besieged the table.

Throughout the day, the managers of the Warrington and Wigan branches were taunting each other by email: the Wigan manager boasting that we were on target to sell 100 books and smash the record in Warrington; the Warrington manager pooh-poohing all such claims, insisting that the Warrington record was unassailable.

When Mum left at 3pm, we were still over 20 books short of the record. At 4pm, I usually leave the store, but my competitive juices had been sufficiently stirred by the manager to motivate me to stay. I left before 5pm with 97 books sold, versus 87 in Warrington.

We returned to Warrington on Christmas Eve, but the store was scheduled to close early. The manager jokingly offered to give me the keys, so I could keep the store open in order to sell enough books to beat Wigan, but I declined. We sold over 70 books. The regional manager shook our hands, and congratulated us.

500 books were sold during these recent northern book signings. They left me so exhausted I slept for 11 hours last night.

Click here for the previous Waterstone's signing blogs
Waterstone’s Warrington

Mum and I just got back from today’s book signing. It started out with 12 books sold from 11am until noon, so we figured it would be an average day. I was keeping count by writing the number down.

During the next hour, things went bonkers. For 40 minutes, Christmas shoppers mobbed my table, some demanding three or four books to be signed – “Can’t have the grandchildren fighting over one book now can we?” – so I completely lost count.

“You’ve sold 75,” a staff member said a few hours later. “More than Kerry Katona!”
"Who's she?" I asked.
The lady looked at me as if to say, What planet are you from? This is what happens when you don't watch TV.

Those of you worried about me overworking my mum will be pleased to know that while I was so busy I didn't even get to open my bag of salted cashews, Mum took a full lunch hour to eat at Debenhams.

By the end of the signing, Mum and I were delirious from exhaustion. I actually left the store to bin some trash, and when I re-entered Mum thrust a leaflet at me, and tried to sell me a copy of Hard Time. I really should have bought one off her before she noticed I was her son.

By the time we left, the computer system hadn’t registered all of the book sales, but the manager estimated it be almost 90. He invited us back for Xmas Eve, a hard-to-get spot coveted by authors.

Tomorrow, we’re returning to the Wigan Waterstone’s, but the store only has 50 books in stock. Fortunately, I carry 100 in the trunk of my car at all times.

It's great to get out and meet so many friendly people who are interested in my story.

Click here for the previous Waterstone's book signing blog
Dawn of a New Adventure (Part 9)

“We’ve got a local author signing books today,” my mum said to a harmless-looking old lady entering the store. “It’s a true story. Bit like The Shawshank Redemption – ”
“I’m not interested!” The old lady’s face animated, her eyes becoming wide and wild. “I’m a poet! I'm a published poet! Do you know Lord Byron?” Her voice changed as if she were channelling messages from the spirit world as she started reciting Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, a lengthy poem by Byron. On and on she went, attracting queer looks from the passers-by that I was trying to attract to my table, who were now swerving away from us. When she started waving her arms around and putting her face so close that we could smell her cat-food breath, we backed away.
A woman weighed down with shopping bags whose passage was blocked by the old lady yelled, “Can you get out of my bloody way!”
The old lady drifted further into the store, showering random praise on Byron with statements such as “Lord Byron got that one right!”
I had the urge to ask her “Did Lord Byron get it right when he slept with his half sister or drank from human skulls?” but I managed to suppress it.

And thus began last Friday’s book signing at Waterstone’s in Altrincham, where we – me and my top salesperson: my mum – smashed our previous record by selling 47 copies. According to the Waterstone’s staff in Warrington, local authors sell an average of 5 copies per signing.

On Saturday, Mum – after seeing news reports about the traffic chaos and worried that we might perish on our 39 minute journey to Waterstone’s in Stockport – packed an emergency preparedness kit, consisting of blankets (including the cat’s for some reason), a litre of apple juice, tangerines, bananas and nuts. Despite being barely able to see through a windshield caked in salt from the freshly gritted roads, we arrived unharmed.

A group of schoolchildren, mistaking me for someone famous, the kind of mistake I really appreciate, approached my table with the following demand: “Sorry we don’t have enough money to buy your book, but will you sign some of your leaflets and stamp them with cockroaches for us.” After I’d accommodated their wishes, they ran outside, giggling, chatting, and flaunting my signature to their friends.
Luckily, they left just in time so as not to overhear a woman say to her husband, “Shaun Attwood. Who is he? I’ve never heard of him.” Approaching my mum, the woman said, “Are you his mum or his manager?”
“Both,” Mum said. “But I don’t get paid.”

The next bookstore eccentric was in the same league as the Byronic Woman. I’d managed to coax a number of shoppers to my table. They were happily reading the book jacket to the accompaniment of mum’s words of encouragement to buy Hard Time when a man who appeared to be wearing a lunch heavy on tomato ketchup all over his sweater and jacket lapels barged through them, and greeted me in an incomprehensible way that involved drooling on the table. The cluster of potential book buyers scattered – never to be seen again. Eyeing droplets of drool landing worryingly close to my pile of unsold books, I had to do something about the situation. I managed to steer him to one side of the table. He droned on, his drool landing safely on the floor. But he was acting like mosquito repellent on the fresh batch of customers coming up the stairs, clutching my leaflet, interest sparkling in their eyes – until they saw him. At one point he started waving his chequebook at me, but I was mystified as to what he was trying to communicate about it. All I could fathom was that he didn’t have the money on him to buy Hard Time, that he was going begging in an attempt to raise it and that he’d be back in two hours.

A middle-aged man approached my table. "Are you Shaun Attwood?"
"Yes. I'm signing my book today – ”
"You're under arrest! We're extraditing you back to America, to Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail."
He remained deadpan, and I played along.

By the end of the signing, Mum had almost lost her voice. The people she was pitching to were either walking past, unable to hear her, or looking at her in a kindly way as if she had some illness. She was no doubt a victim of my work ethic: I'd only allowed us to have a bag of crisps each for lunch so as not to lose any sales.
Discussing the bookstore eccentrics on the drive home, Mum said, “That’s how local authors end up in their old age.” She added that I’ll end up like the Byronic Woman, only quoting Nietzsche.

We sold 55 books in Stockport, giving the proactive staff – two of whom donned the striped jail outfits (see the pics in the previous blog) – bragging rights over the other branches. Thank you to all of the staff at Waterstone’s who have been helping us!

The next Waterstone’s book signings are in Warrington on December 22nd, and Wigan on December 23rd.

Click here for the previous Waterstone's book signing blog

Click here for Dawn of a New Adventure (Part 8)

Xmas Waterstone's Book Signings
Shit Slingers VI (by Polish Avenger)

Polish Avenger – A software-engineering undergraduate sentenced to 25 years because his friend was shot dead during a burglary they were committing. In Arizona, if a burglar gets killed, accomplices can get 25-year sentences.

Polish Avenger recently read the article below, and wanted to share it as part of his Shit Slinger series:

Amy Marie Hager, 33, was arrested after deputies with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic violence complaint. When trying to place Hager into a transportation van, she jerked away and told the officers that she had defecated in her pants. She then turned and grabbed fecal matter from her shorts and threw it, soiling one deputy.
Hager reportedly said, “Damn, I only hit one of you,” according to the incident report.
She was charged with domestic aggravated battery, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence.

If you haven’t read any of Polish Avenger’s disturbing yet amazing Shit Slinger series yet, then click here.

Polish Avenger’s extremely funny “Holiday Post” will be posted in time for Xmas.
Caught Tattooing in Prison (by Lifer Renee)

Renee – Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

I do tattoo work from time to time. Mostly when I have no money. I do it to pay for stuff like hygiene items from the store.

So a friend, Kathy, wanted a tattoo. As she does tattoos as well and was a tattoo artist before her arrest, it was a privilege to tattoo her.
When we were ready to start, Kathy stepped outside of my cell door, and asked the girl on the stairs if she would “pin” for us. [Watch out for the guards because tattooing in prison is a violation of the rules punishable by a loss of privileges.]
She responded, “Yeah, I got you, homey.”

Kathy came back in. I put the stencil on her leg, tattoo gun at the ready. I started the outline. I was about a quarter of the way through the outline when a shadow appeared at the cell-door window.
Oh damn, I thought, turning to look at an officer.
He was staring at the tattoo gun in my hand. “Put the gun on the counter and step out of the room.”
I put the gun down. My heart was racing. I forgot to put my shoes on, not even shower shoes, and it was 107 degrees outside.
They shut the door to my cell.
The officer called the on-shift sergeant. I didn’t catch the radio conversation.
Sitting at the ramada, I tried to wipe the ink and stencil off Kathy’s leg.
A friend brought me a pair of deck shoes, so I wouldn’t have to walk around on the hot concrete barefoot.

The guards searched my room and locked me out. They threatened to move me and Kathy to CDU [Complex Detention Unit]. They packed up all of my belongings, leaving my bedding and some basic hygiene products. In violation of prison policy, I did not receive a seized-property receipt or an inventory sheet. They left me sat in the blazing heat in borrowed shoes without a cup of water even to drink.

The girl who was supposed to be watching out for us approached. “I’m sorry. I…” is about all she got out.
Cutting her off, I said, “If you don’t shut up and get away from me, we’re going to have problems.” I was not in the mood for excuses.
Again, she tried, “I didn’t know…”
Through clenched teeth, I said, “If you do not get away from me…”
A friend of mine took the girl away by the arm as she knew I was in so much trouble I didn’t need to bury myself.

Our belongings were carted to SSU’s office [the office belonging to the prison’s team of investigators]. The SSU officers would search through everything at their leisure. Photographs were taken of our tattoos. During my strip search, the officer would not allow me to put my clothes, shorts or even panties on while she took photographs of the tattoos on my back. I felt violated. I never thought I’d be doing porn for the Arizona Department of Corrections. There was no reason to disallow me from wearing panties and shorts. The angel tattoo on my back is big, but it stops an inch or two past my bra line. There is nothing below it but virgin skin that has not even seen sunshine in 16 years.

I received a major ticket – a felony according to the new disciplinary policy. I got 30 days LOP [Loss Of Privileges], 30 extra duty hours, and loss of 10 ERC’s [Earned Release Credits].

Click here for Renee’s previous blog.

Post comments for Renee below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.
Shaun Attwood
Postcards from Long Island (10)

Long Island - Promising young cellmate I taught to trade the financial markets. Released on the 11th of December '05 and rearrested February ’08. Alleged to have committed forgery and hit an officer with a car. He’s writing from Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Lower Buckeye jail.

Just when I thought it would never get any better, I was blessed with a new plea bargain for 6 years. I’ll only have to serve 85%, and I’ll have 3 years back time. This is a lot better than the plea I had with the sentencing range of 7.5 to 10.5 years. If I can get the minimum on the plea, which is 5 years, that would bring me home in a year. That’s pretty damn good considering the amount of shit I was in. My sentencing has been moved to the 1st of January, so I’ll be here for a little while longer.

I’m sending all of the postcards you’ve wrote to me out for my mom to put away. I’ve read Hard Time twice now, and when I wrote you last I forgot to thank you for sending it to me, and for mentioning me, Long Island, in the back. Thank you so much for your friendship.

Take care, my friend!

Rule Britannia!

Long Island

Click here for Long Island's previous blog.

Click here for Long Island's review of Hard Time.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is caught out on camera lying after describing his Tent City jail as a concentration camp.
More Waterstone's Book Signings

It's still snowing here, and the roads are iced over. I'm at my parents' house, about to leave for London. The snow looks like glitter falling from a dark sky. Car windows are frosted. Car theft has spiked up due to owners leaving their vehicles unattended with the engines running to generate warmth.

In Wigan on Saturday, Waterstone's sold out of copies of Hard Time within an hour and a half, and we had to fetch more from the car. Staff member Abbey was a great help, immediately jumping into a jail outfit (see pic below) and handing out flyers to incoming shoppers. My mother generated considerable sales by chatting to customers. Wild Man showed up and signed some books as well. He looked larger than life in a black flowing jacket.

The next day in Warrington we sold even more, and set a new record for the amount of books sold at that store on a Sunday. Two staff members donned the jail outfits (see pics below), and handed out flyers.

Waterstone's promptly recommended more Hard Time signings to its stores in the northwest, and today I was inundated with requests. I'm now scheduled to do signings nearly every day of the week preceding Xmas. Two of their biggest stores, both Manchester locations, have booked me for March.

I'm still getting nowhere with the southern bookstores though, which is a pity as I live by London. Does anyone out there work at a southern Waterstone's? It actually costs more to travel up north than I make from the books sold at these signings. But at least more people are reading Hard Time, and spreading the word.

Click here for the first Waterstone's signings blog 

Shaun Attwood, Waterstone's Wigan Book Signing
Question Time

Apologies for the delay in blogging. We have record snow in England. I got stranded away from home while on the road doing talks to schools. Delays on my local freeway, the M25, were up to 20 hours, and hundreds of lorries had jack-knifed. I ended up staying at my sister's house. Now the freeways are deserted. It was surreal driving home, dodging cars abandoned on the roads, constantly having to make way for squealing emergency vehicles. Viewed against the white earth and sky, the bright-blue ambulance lights looked like poltergeists trying to materialise from another world. I'm scheduled to leave today to do more Waterstone's book signings, Wigan on Saturday, Warrington on Sunday, so I'll probably be getting stranded again here soon. Here's the latest questions and answers:

I am a student who experienced your speech at Richard Hale School. I found it very interesting, and have now learnt what jail really is like, which will hopefully help to keep me away from drugs and jail. I came away with a few questions I would like to have asked, but wasn't confident enough to ask them in front of the whole of year 10 and 11.

Where you addicted to drugs when you went to prison?

In response to this question, please read part of a discussion I had with the brilliant prison psychotherapist, Dr. O:
“Drugs enabled me to socialise. I figured I could do them to have fun when I felt like it – most weekends – and I told myself I wasn’t addicted because I could stop, and seemed to function normally before I chose to do them again. Was I in denial?”
“Yes. You were addicted otherwise you wouldn’t be here,” said Dr. O.
“I thought addiction was like a heroin addict who’s got to get his fix every day or else he feels ill.”
“Addiction is when doing drugs interferes with your ability to function. You have a limited – a narrow view. Acknowledging your addiction exists is difficult for you. You must look at it in terms of how you would introduce yourself at an AA meeting: ‘I’m Jon. I’m a drug addict. I’ve been clean and sober for so many years.'”

Click here to read the entire conversation with Dr.O. (part 7)

Why did you get moved to a maximum security jail?

I went to court in the hope of getting my $750,000 bail reduced, so that I could get out of the jail. The judge ended up doubling my bail to $1.5 million (cash only). When your bond goes over a million, you are automatically reclassified to maximum security.

What happened to your fiancée when you were sentenced to prison?

Claudia showed up at the sentencing, but she had already broke up with me. A year earlier, the prosecutor had charged her for a crime she had not committed in order to stop her from visiting me. It was too hard to keep going with no visits.

Are you a millionaire now by doing talks and writing your blog?

No. What was left of my money was seized by the police. I’ve started my own business doing talks to schools, but to get my business off the ground I had to go into debt. The blog is for the benefit of prisoners. It doesn’t make any money. I could put ads on it to make money, but that would detract from what the blog is trying to achieve.
Do you still have friends from prison that were there with you?
Yes. They write to me and I post their stories to Jon’s Jail Journal. This year I’ve decided to use the money I was going to spend on Xmas cards to instead send much-needed books to my friends inside.

What were the emotions when you were sentenced to prison, and what you felt about your family at that point.

I could write pages answering this question. It’s actually all covered in the last chapter of my book, which is one of the longest chapters in there. You can find your answer in the copy that I donated to your school.

What did it feel like being a millionaire?

I had more money than commonsense. I immediately moved into a big mountainside house in a private community, with my own swimming pool and Jacuzzi. I was spending it like crazy on throwing parties, and stuff like limo rides, and trips to Las Vegas where I spent thousands buying Diesel clothes in Caesar’s Palace. I lost most of it when the stock market crashed, so I wasn’t living large for long.

Click here for the previous Question Time
Hard Time Reviews by Prisoners No. 5: Long Island

Long Island - Promising young cellmate I taught to trade the financial markets. Released on the 11th of December '05 and rearrested February ’08. Alleged to have committed forgery and hit an officer with a car. He’s writing from Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Lower Buckeye jail.

I received Hard Time yesterday and have finished it this afternoon. I read straight through almost all night. Bravo, my friend, well done! It was fantastic and the ending was heart wrenchingly beautiful. Your depictions of Towers jail and the Madison Street jail are superb.

Ironically sad, nothing has changed. The people you described are still here, but the names are changed.

Your description of your relationship with your fiancée, Claudia, has left me shaken and your mother’s trauma and her statement at sentencing brought tears to my eyes.

Reading your words to myself, my mind was hearing your voice. It was as if you were in the cell reading the book aloud to me. You have once again inspired me to reach within myself and pull out the best parts.

One of the things that impressed me the most was that the book wasn’t just about the jails that we live in, but the jails that the people who love us live in while we’re incarcerated. Claudia’s pain was so vivid, and you parents’ was unbearable.

The photos of you in the book look great. Freedom is definitely agreeing with you. Your devotion to Wild Man speaks volumes of your character. The photo of you two together looks great.

I’m letting my attorney read it next, then his legal secretary.

Good show, old boy!

Click here for the previous review in this series.

Click here for Long Island's previous blog.

Hard Time at Amazon UK. Hard Time at the Book Depository.
Anne Mini

There couldn't be a better introduction to the US version of Hard Time than the one written by Anne Mini. I am extremely delighted and fortunate that Anne - whose advice and blog has helped shape my literary development over the years - has taken the time to make such a wonderful contribution. Today, she has announced her contribution and posted some kind words about Hard Time to her blog here.
US Hard Time Cover Revised
Knuckle Check (by Lifer Renee)

Renee – Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

I was waiting for an officer to do the head count. Shadows kept passing by my door, which was not normal. I went to the door, and peered out of my window. On the lower run were dark droplets that I knew were blood. Instead of hiding my contraband, I checked to see what the guards were doing. They were making women step out of their cells one at a time. They were doing knuckle checks – and more. They were examining forearms and faces, and making the women pull their shirts up to reveal their stomachs and lower backs.

By the time they reached my cell, shirts were no longer being pulled up, which was good because I was ready to protest. It is most uncomfortable to be stared at by guards who look as if they are counting every pore on your skin.

They arrived at my cell. “Let’s see your hands!”
I held my hands out, palms down.
They checked for marks that would indicate I’d been fighting. Seeing none, they moved on.
After they had checked my neighbors, I jumped upon the toilet and called my neighbor through the 4”x4” vent above the toilet that connects the cells.
“Neighbor, Hope.”
She jumped onto her toilet. “Hi, neighbour.”
“Do you know what happened?”
“No, nothing,” she said. “Just a knuckle check.”

Usually fights in here do not happen quietly. I don’t know why, but women have a tendency to yell, scream, and make quite the scene. My door had been open, yet I didn’t hear a thing. I also didn’t understand why the blood wasn’t cleaned up if they didn’t want to go unnoticed.

Click here for Renee’s previous blog

Post comments for Renee below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun Attwood
My First In-Store Book Signing - Waterstone's Warrington

I just got back from Cheshire, and all was not grim up north. I did my first book signing in a book store on Friday at Waterstones in Warrington. Many people were buying the book as a Xmas present for young people as a cautionary tale about getting involved in drugs and crime. Much to the amazement of the staff, they quickly sold out of books, and my mum had to bring more to the store. They're recommending me to the other Waterstone's, and I already got booked by the Manchester Deansgate one (Saturday March 19th), which is the biggest in the northwest. Hard Time is still riding high on Amazon, in part thanks to a mention in this months FHM.

Click here for the news story about my signing:

Public Speaking Videos

In the two videos below, I'm at Regents College, London talking to a group of psychotherapists. It was part of a masterclass put on by Andrew T. Austin. Double click on the videos to get the full screen version.


Book Signing Friday Nov 19th

I'll be signing books at Waterstones in Warrington from 11am until 3pm. Anyone in the northwest who wants to attend is welcome. Here's the full address:

23-24, Golden Square Shopping Centre
Warrington WA1 1QE
0843 290 8675

7 Famous Inmates Who Completed a Degree from Prison

7 Famous Inmates Who Completed a Degree from Prison
An Evening Meal (by the Occult Killer)

Dubbed the Occult Killer by the media, Brandon is serving 6 to 12 years in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. His crime: he killed his best friend in a drunk-driving accident. When police investigators discovered Gothic paraphernalia in his bedroom, they naturally concluded Brandon had committed a sacrificial murder for the benefit of Satan.

The kitchen is on this string of heinousness, so I’ve been hanging back and eating 7-11 cuisine. Tonight was sausage simulate with cheese-flavored snack product on Keefe cracker-flavored flatbreads, expertly sliced with my ID card. Whatever that processed garbage is made out of, it’s pretty good. On top of that I have some freeze-dried milk and Imperial Ice Cream Credits. A few nights ago I had some raspberry cheesecake ice cream. Slammin’. I swear, we eat whatever beefs it on the highway. Say if a poultry truck overturns that day, chicken dinner for a week. Same thing when the crows start to disappear. Very odd…

Click here for Brandon's previous blog.

Click here for Brandon's review of Hard Time.
Question Time

Quincy from the University of Hawaii asked the following questions:

In a Dec 2004 post you wrote “my feelings about injustice grew stronger in 2004. This blog is a platform I will continue to use to highlight injustice. To end injustice we all need to speak out.” Was this your primary motivator during the first days of your blog? Or was it less consciously politically motivated at its inception? Or was it always the goal, to expose the inhuman conditions? How did the blog’s purpose evolve over time?

From inception, the goal was to expose the conditions and human rights violations. Over time, I adopted the goal of trying to humanise prisoners in the eyes of the public. To do so, I focussed on inmates I befriended like Two Tonys, T-Bone, Frankie... The blog is still going so prisoners voices can be heard on the internet.

Regarding the logistics you had to go through to get your material online while in prison, the sending mail to help on the outside to facilitate its posting, did the fact that you were writing entries your parents would see shape the content you wrote? The material seems so candid, was it hard to open this incarcerated world up to your family? Were there some things you would have liked to tell the world, but couldn’t? Was there any degree of self-censoring at times?

These are great questions, and I probably should have addressed some of them in the book. When I was first arrested, I didn't want my parents suffering the knowledge of the full extent of the conditions and the violence. By the time I started the blog, almost 2 years after my arrest, I'd been through so much, they knew most of what was going on. There was no censorship. That would have defeated the purpose of disclosing what was really going on in there.

Describe, if you can elaborate, what it felt like when your blog started attracting an audience. What was it like to have strangers feel such a connection through your writing? What went through your mind when the Guardian first picked up your story? Did the public exposure change the nature of your writing? Or did it encourage you to keep doing what came natural?

It was amazing that all of these kind people from around the world that I'd never met suddenly started offering their support by way of comments, letters and sending books. As things progressed, it was like they were there with me in spirit, and I didn't feel so lonely. The biggest paragraph in the acknowledgements in my book is a list of blog reader’s names. When The Guardian ran excerpts from the blog, I was surprised and delighted. I couldn't believe that my written efforts had got into the media. That happened when I'd been moved from Arpaio's jail into the prison system, and my writing was beginning to focus more on the inmates. I did go through some strange writing phases after that as I experimented with various styles.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed is your active inclusion of fellow prisoners, seeming to reflect the close confines of prison life, the communal features, sometimes posting material other inmates wrote (I’m thinking of A Christmas Eve Poem from an Anonymous Inmate). How did it happen that you opened the blog up to collaboration? Was it to give a more holistic perspective to the reader?

This was in part due to the goal I adopted of humanising prisoners in the eyes of the public. I also wanted to show how the prison experience varied for each individual, so I chose a diverse group of prisoners to write about, resulting in blogs such as A Two Tonys Day, A Xena Day

Lastly, even though I haven’t gotten to your most recent posts yet, can you describe the transition you experienced after release, with regard to the blog’s continued existence? From writing your own experience to helping facilitate the dissemination other voices, of those still incarcerated? Did it give you a new perspective on this project? New aims? Where do you see the blog going?

After I was released, I contacted incarcerated women in order to get their viewpoints online and to share their experiences. Sadly, there are few female prison bloggers, and that's something I'd like to see more of. The present goals at Jon's Jail Journal are: to expose the conditions, to provide a platform for prisoners voices to be heard (and in the interests of variety that's why I opened the blog up to guest bloggers), and to document my post-release progress. I'm also hoping that the blog will enable some of our top writers like Warrior, Shane, and Polish Avenger to go on to be successful writers beyond blogging.

Click here for the previous Question Time

Two UK magazines are presently running my story: FHM (December edition) and The Word (November edition)  
Hard Time Hardback Cover for US Edition

I'm curious as to what you think of this cover? The hardback just went on presale here in America.
Iron Man’s Freedom (Part 3)

Iron Man - A martial-arts expert and personal trainer whose crimes include smashing someone’s door down to collect a debt.

Yesterday I celebrated my first birthday out in eight years. It was a good day. I worked for a couple of hours and then spent time with my Mom, my youngest son Nathan, his girl and their two sons. We went out to eat for dinner, and I had steak, shrimp, and all the trimmings. Even treated myself to some chocolate cake, fudge, and carrot cake. Small portions of the dessert items as I am not accustomed to eating much sugar.

I spent the day reflecting over the past 8 years and over the things l have accomplished in the last year, and particularly in the last 8 months. Also evaluating the current situations, circumstances and relationships that I am exploring.

My workout program is paying off. I've gained 18 pounds of muscle mass since I came home. Still hitting the gym 3 to 4 nights a week.

Seizing the day and enjoying the present moment.

In truth, things couldn't be going much better.

Love and Respect,

As Always,

Iron Man

Click here for Iron Man’s Freedom Part 2

Click her for the fight story, Iron Man v Snake Eyes

Our prison friends appreciate your comments

Post comments for Iron Man below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity

Shaun Attwood
Another Day in a Women’s Prison (Part 2 by Lifer Renee)

Renee – When only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. Fourteen years into her sentence, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

My day started at 4am. I got up from a restless sleep. Depending on who works the yard on the graveyard shift will determine if you get to sleep the night through. Tired, grouchy, not wanting to go to work, off to work I went. I took a ChapStick, cup, glasses, Sweet ’N Low, and creamer.

Me and Sara walked to the 21 area. Jokingly, we said, “Is it Friday yet?”
When we got there, it was like every other day. Our boss was late. We waited.
Sergeant Hart walked out of the yard office, and screamed, “I don’t wanna hear no lip. If I hear it, I will write you up, and you will lose your job. Get into the pit, and line up.”
Everyone looked slightly confused. We had hardly conversed amongst ourselves, let alone to any of the officers. We lined up.
“Now empty your pockets! Everything on the ground!”
We emptied our pockets. I put my personal items on the ground in front of me. Great, I thought to myself. Our boss already thinks we’re a bunch of troublemakers, and is completely submissive when it comes to the Department of Corrections and sticking up for us.
The sergeant was walking in front of us, looking at our items. The expression on his face was as if we had each put down a kilo of heroin. We looked at him as if he had lost his damn mind.
“Sarg, come over here and make sure they do not pick anything up.”
Another sergeant came over. Sergeant Hart went into the yard office.

Our boss finally showed up. We protested, our voices overriding one another.
“Not today!” he boomed. “I do not care! You are not allowed to have anything today, but a water bottle and Maxi-Pads. Take it back to the yard.”
We walked back to the yard, everyone whispering.

At the yard, everyone was staring at us as if we were aliens. My friends were in the smoking section.
I told them, “Just so you know, if you have anything in your room, you might want to take care of it, and don’t try to take anything to work with you. I think they may be shaking down the yard.” I dropped my stuff off in my cell, and returned to work.

Sure enough sometime later there was a call initiating a lockdown for quarterly searches. When I returned to my cell from work, all of my belongings had been dumped on the floor in a big mess. I had to start picking things up at the doorway.

We were locked down for the evening at 8.15pm. A guard went from door to door doing a formal headcount at 8.30pm to ensure that everyone was in their proper place.
The shift change from swing to graveyard happened at around 10pm. Around 11pm, when I was well into dreamland, I was abruptly woken up by the banging of keys on the door, so that the officer could see my face. Then again at 1am. I don’t know why they need to wake me up for a face-to-ID check twice every night. My cell was locked at 8.15pm and no one was let out. Sleep deprivation wasn’t part of my sentencing.

Click here for Renee’s previous blog in which she answered some of your questions

Click here for Another Day part 1

Download my jail book, Hard Time, for FREE

Shaun Attwood
Hometown Launch Party for Hard Time

Thank you everyone who attended both the hometown launch party and the London launch! The events went extremely well - a credit to the great people that showed up and gave support. The hometown launch attracted over 100 people and was broadcast on local radio. 

Pics below (in the previous blog post):
1 Tommy Noone (radio presenter)
2 Mum
3 Amy (my former secretary) from Phoenix, Arizona
4 Tommy Noone
5 The policeman from my hometown who locked me in a cell at age 10 when he caught a group of us trespassing on the grounds of a chemical manufacturing company. We were all crying when our parents picked us up at Widnes police station
6 Dad's best friend and his wife
7 Doing my talk
8 Cousin reading from Hard Time
9 Cousin reading from Hard Time
10 Talking about jail tattoos
11 Signing a book for the raffle winner
Hometown Launch Party for Hard Time  

Sunday Morning Live Appearance

The link is below. Jump forward 15 minutes if you want to see my little part.
Live on BBC1 This Morning

I’m going to be appearing on Sunday Morning Live - BBC1's topical ethical debate show presented by Susanna Reid, some time after 10.10am.
Hometown Launch Party and Live Television

I’m travelling up to Cheshire later today for the hometown launch party for Hard Time on Friday night. Over 200 people are expected. Further details are here. The Facebook page is here. Pics will be posted when they become available.

On Sunday morning, I’m going to be doing live television by way of an appearance on Sunday Morning Live - BBC1's topical ethical debate show presented by Susanna Reid and broadcast live between 10am and 11am every weekend. The prison debate will be the second debate on the show, which should take place between 10.20 and 10.40am.
Unacceptable Prison Sanitation at HMP Coldingley

I just did a radio interview for BBC Surrey on the subject of prisoners at HMP Coldingley having to defecate in plastic bags and throw urine and human waste out of their cell windows due to lack of access to toilets.

I stated that I had experienced similar conditions (see my first blog entry). I pointed out that when prisoners are treated like animals, some of them will behave like animals when they are released, and society will ultimately pay the price by way of more crimes and victims.

The inspectors at Coldingley classified the prison as safe - safe in the context of escape risk. If prisoners have to throw pots of urine and human waste out of the window, how safe is Coldingley in terms of disease risk, and how close are these prisoners to rioting in order to get the inhumane conditions improved? Unsanitary living conditions like these at HMP Coldingley enable diseases such as hepatitis, MRSA and staph infections to thrive in the prison system. The cost of treatment of diseases must be factored in when prisoners living areas are spattered with fecal matter and urine.

These conditions may satisfy the lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key brigade and allow the prison authorities to state that everything going on is "safe" to the public, but in the long run conditions like these cost more to society than any short-term savings.
London Launch Event For Hard Time

A big thank you to everyone who attended the event last Thursday night at the Royal Festival Hall! Tickets sold out. We had a full house. Some people - including one of our most regular commenters here, Sue O - had flown in from America.

I ended up on the stage getting interviewed by Erwin James - a lifer who served 20 years. Erwin's rehabilitation through writing was so successful that he became a columnist for The Guardian while still incarcerated, and his prison memoir, A Life Inside, is highly acclaimed. His powerful presence did not go unnoticed. Many of my family and friends commented on what an excellent host of the talk he had been. Erwin picked up on everything going on in the audience, and adjusted the interview accordingly. He emphasized that the event was a celebration of prisoners redeeming themselves through art. Erwin also interviewed Matthew Meadows, whose excellent new book, Insider Art, showcases art by prisoners and is the first of its kind. The book is proving to be a powerful source of inspiration to all of the prisoners whose art it contains.

Sat on the front row, my parents were close enough to sabotage my feeble attempts at self-deprecatory humour.
For example, when I said, "I live the idle life of a writer. I get up whenever I want to," my mum interjected with, "He doesn't have a life. All he does is stay in his room and write."

The chief executive of the Koestler Trust, Tim, introduced and ended the talk. Koestler's Arts Mentoring For Released Prisoners program was his brainchild. That program transformed my life by way of my mentor Sally Hinchcliffe. Tim seemed moved to see the finished product (i.e. me) thriving thanks to Koestler's help.

Hammy and Wild Man (both in Hard Time) looked dapper in new suits (see photos in the blog below). After the talk, they disappeared into the dark and chilly London night like vampire bats, unable to fulfill all of the requests to autograph copies of Hard Time. Hopefully, they won't be so elusive at the hometown launch party for Hard Time this coming Friday. All are welcome. Details are:

Friday 29 October 8pm - 8 Towers Pub, Weates Close, Widnes, Cheshire, WA8 3RH Tel: 0151 424 8063

Hometown launch. Book signing, excerpts being read, and presentation with images. Special guests from Hard Time: Wild Man and Hammy.

Free event. No ticket or invitation required. Just show up on the night at any time.

Facebook page for hometown launch.

Over 200 people are expected, and the local radio station will be broadcasting live.
Pics From London Launch Event For Hard Time

The pics below:
1 Erwin James
2 Lynne, Garry, Aunty Lily
3 Hammy, Stephen Nash (formerly of Prisoners Abroad), Mum
4 Tim (Chief Executive of the Koestler Trust)
5 Inveterate commenter Sue O and family from Pennyslvania
6 Surrah, Gabriella and Hammy
7 Amy (from Phoenix), Yvonne and Peter (from Dublin)
8 Mum
9 Mike Hotwheelz (in Hard Time), Esther and Anna
10 Stephen Nash and Amy
11 Wild Man and Hammy (in Hard Time)
12 Charlie and Mum
13 The meal afterwards at Las Iguanas

Shit Slingers V (The Early Years Part 6 by Polish Avenger)

Polish Avenger – A software-engineering undergraduate sentenced to 25 years because his friend was shot dead during a burglary they were committing. In Arizona, if a burglar gets killed, accomplices can get 25-year sentences.

Over the last entries we discussed Magnum and his willingness – nay, eagerness – to go places deep within the forbidden landscape of scatology and self-degradation. Yet even his fellow shit slingers were taken aback and slightly nauseated by his next innovation. In the fecal arms race, he crossed a line somewhere and became a poo kamikaze.

After the great splatterings that occurred as a result of his elaborate plumbing systems (see the last couple of posts), the guards caught on fairly quickly that even with the fellow naked and spread-eagled at the door, his was not a cell to be approached lightly! He would vary the pipe design and location, but ultimately one can only do so much to disguise several feet worth of device that’s equal parts Rube Goldberg and Dante’s Inferno (particularly one lower level featuring a river of boiling poo! Good old Dante…)

The guards began to very carefully inspect the cell front – from a distance, mind you – to ensure there would be no rain of liquid horror.
And they actually thought that would work.
Perhaps with a less determined, less deranged individual they may have reached an uneasy truce.
But this was Magnum. The sine qua non of shit slingers.

So one day after an inspection, they cuffed Magnum and escorted his naked ass to the shower. Once inside, it can be anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours before they come back to collect you. On this occasion though, it was about 45 minutes. Magnum cuffed up with no complaint, the shower door opened…and the guards were introduced to a whole new nightmare level of crazy.
I have to give the guy kudos. Most people in here try to make their time easier. Magnum went balls-out in the opposite direction and single-mindedly stuck to his guns that everyone was going to have a difficult time.

So, locked in a shower stall with nothing more than a little motel-style cake of soap, how would one befoul the guards?
Well, here’s one solution: Magnum proceeded to squeeze a hot log into his cupped hands and cram it into his mouth.
Yes, his mouth.
But wait, it gets better.
He then chewed, swirled, gargled and gnashed it around to get the proper runny consistency.
And then he sat down to wait.
I’m not sure how many of those 45 minutes he sat there, naked, alone, with a mouth full of his own pureed shit sauce.
But when the guards finally came to collect him and the shower door opened, he simply pursed his lips and became a human Dookie Uzi.
Hygiene concerns aside, can you imagine his breath?

From all reports, this act so utterly shocked the guards that they just stood there in frozen amazement as poo-syrup slowly dripped down their face shields. Magnum sensed their momentary loss of composure and launched with savage glee into a flying tackle, trying to do some damage. He really didn’t as wrestling from the handcuffed and naked position is difficult at best. As usual, he was quickly maced, subdued, and led off to yet another holding cell. The real impact was psychological: what do you do with someone willing to go that far?
Wear lots of rubber clothing, apparently!

I got promoted (in name only) not long after, and so didn’t have to mop up Magnum’s holding cells any more. No, from now on I’d be mopping up his messes at the medical area and many other peoples’. And some of the staff members were quite nearly as bad as our Lord of the Shit Slingers.

Click here for Shit Slingers IV.

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Post comments and questions for Polish Avenger below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun Attwood
Just Another One (by Shane)

Shane - Denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs financed by burglaries. For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, he was sentenced by Judge Ron Reinstein to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

It was November 1999. The citizens of Phoenix were in a panic. Murders were on the rise, and the “Sonic’s Bandits” had a body count of at least 7.

The Sonic’s Bandits – two cousins armed with high-power semi-auto handguns – had been on a murderous rampage, robbing and shooting people at Sonic’s fast-food restaurants, an AutoZone, and various other businesses.
Seconds after the “hot-call” tone broadcast on the South Mountain Precinct police channel, the call went out: “Subject with a gun. Family barbeque restaurant, 23rd Street and Broadway. Suspect is a black male. Blue jeans. North Carolina hoody.”
An officer happened to be passing the restaurant: “Four-thirty-one-frank, I’m 23 on the location.” He parked next to the restaurant. Approaching the restaurant, the officer spotted the suspect standing at the counter looking up at the menu. Entering the building, the officer thought, Probably just another citizen calling 9-1-1 out of fear of the Sonic’s Bandits.

The suspect coolly glanced over at the uniformed officer. “What’s up,” he said, and went back to looking at the menu.
“What’s up,” the officer responded, approaching the man. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
The man put his hand in his right front pants’ pocket. “Sure, what’s up?”
“Sir, get your hand out of your pocket, put your hands on your head and interlace your fingers.”
The man complied.
“Sir, do you have any weapons, guns, knives or grenades on you?” The officer began to frisk the suspect.
Another officer entered the restaurant behind the man.
The first officer felt a pistol in the man’s pocket. “Gun!”
The man broke free, spun around and elbowed the officer in the face, breaking the officer’s nose. Reaching into his pocket, he tried to pull the gun. The second officer grabbed the man’s hand, trapping it inside the pocket. The first officer swung viciously, hitting the suspect in the face and head in order to disable the threat.
The suspect was unfazed by the blows, and continued to hit both cops repeatedly with powerful punches.
Breaking away from the fight, the first cop drew his sidearm from three feet away. “Nine-oh-one-george,” he yelled, expecting the second officer to recognize the radio code for a shooting and to stand clear. His training had kicked in and he wanted to neutralise the threat with a close proximity headshot.
But the second cop remained in the line of fire.
The first holstered his gun, and radioed, “Nine-oh-seven!” in a panic, the code for “Officer needs immediate assistance,” and jumped back into the fight.
After a knock-down drag-out three-minute fight, several other officers arrived and helped subdue the man.

After searching the man, and finding a second gun in his waistband, the first officer was putting him in his patrol car when the man told him something that he’ll never forget.
In a calm matter-of-fact tone that sent chills down the spine, the man said, “You should be pleased with yourself. You just got one of the Sonic’s Bandits.”
Still unsure, the officer said, “Yeah, right. What’s your problem?”
“Officer, when you walked in the door I was about to shoot you in the head. I’ve killed so many people. I’ve capped my family a few days ago even. You should be dead right now.” The man described how he had murdered his mother and brother.
The officer had been on the scene of those murders just days earlier. He now knew that the man was a Sonic’s Bandit, and that he had cheated death once again.

The officer in this true story is a friend of mine, who, years later, would sadly become addicted to prescription pills and get sent to prison for forgery and obtaining narcotics by fraud. His 11½ year career and military service in Iraq as an army medic with 2 Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star didn’t matter when he was sentenced to 2 years in prison. Drug addiction sees no race, sex, color, creed… or occupation.

Click here for Shane’s own blog

Click here for the first blog about Shane at Jon's Jail Journal

Some of Shane's prison stories:
What Comes Around
Convict Justice
Fighting For No Good Reason

Our friends inside appreciate your comments
Post comments for Shane below or email them to To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity

Shaun Attwood