Question Time and Book by Prisoners

Syncopated Eyeball asked:

It looks to me as if you still have ambition but that you have changed your goals for the better. More importantly it seems that you have changed the nature of your goals so that now you work from a position of compassion and desire for justice; not just from a desire for personal wealth/glory. Would you agree with that? I'm also wondering if you think that your ambitious nature actually helped in your surviving that awful jail term?

Being in prison transformed my perspective on life. I was emotionally immature before prison, and my goals were hedonistic. In prison, I formed friendships with people, some of whom are never getting out. The time I served gave me a brief taste of their suffering, and a long-lasting desire to do what I can for them, including keeping their voices being heard on the Internet. It’s my hope that my book increases public awareness of the conditions in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system, and conditions get improved. It’s also my hope that by posting to the Internet what I'm doing in the schools and how I'm developing as an author, prisoners who read this will be inspired to achieve positive goals. I have a lot of friends in prison who are rooting for me to succeed, and looking at me as a role model.

A number of factors helped me survive the jail term, including my optimistic and ambitious nature. Also, the support of my family, friends and blog readers must not be overlooked.

Les asked:

Are things progressing with your book ? Are you still doing your thing speaking to groups of people?

My book, Hard Time, is slated for September-October publication with a division of Random House. It covers the 26 months I spent in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system, and other than the chapter on Jon’s Jail Journal, it’s all new material. I’m presently writing the prequel, which covers everything before a SWAT team smashed my door down.

I’m doing a lot more talks this year than last. Students are reacting emotionally. Some have cried, including a male student, and teachers have told me they had to fight back tears. I had quite an adventure at a school just a few days ago. It was located in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, equestrian crossings, and cosy pubs with names like The Half Moon, The Plough, and The Winning Post, so I was expecting an easy audience. At the reception, I was told the teacher who'd booked me was off sick, so they weren't expecting me. That the majority of the sixth formers were drunk, including the one who wasn’t supposed to be gallivanting on the roof. Then the students refused to leave the common room to go to the hall for the talk. My only option was to speak to them in the common room, so I went and set a table up with my water on. Some of the students were lounging around in couches and seemed rebellious at first, but as I spoke they became more and more interested. After the talk had ended, they asked me questions for a further 1½ hours, which was the most questions I've ever received, and I found quite incredible. They ended up a great audience, so I drove home with a big smile on my face. Afterwards, the contact teacher emailed me the following:

We’ve had some brilliant feedback about you – the first time anyone has ever managed to keep the students quiet for so long!

It would be great if you could come back in September when our students first arrive; it would be a good message to start the academic year with.

We have a challenging bunch of students here and it is a testament to you that they listened in the first place, so well done.

My creative writing teacher in the last state prison I was at, Dr. S, has published a book, Caged Writing: Prisoners Respond to Unusual Writing Assignments. Some of my writing appears in this book, as well as that of seventeen other prisoners and former classmates. If you want to check it out, the book is available by clicking on either of these two online stores:



Click here for Dawn of a New Adventure Part 7
Post comments 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 P. Attwood

1 comment:

syncopated eyeball said...

Thanks for taking the time to answer the question, Shaun. Sometimes the Universe gives us an Almighty kick in the arse to get us onto the right track. At least that's how I see/experience it. Not that I've experienced the horrors that you have. I did catch Typhoid once though! Reading about your effect on those students gave me goosebumps - good ones. Keep at it, Shaun, you have much to offer.