Hard Time Officially Published Today!
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Today’s news story by the Press Association:
Briton challenges controversial US sheriff
A Cheshire-born man who took on one of America's toughest sheriffs after being jailed in the United States has called for a greater focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners.
Shaun Attwood, 41, originally from Widnes, spent 26 months in the controversial US prison regime run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who once boasted that it cost more to feed the guard dogs than the prisoners he oversaw in Phoenix, Arizona.
"If you treat people like animals, a proportion of them are going to return to society as animals," Attwood said.
His comments came after Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said last month that there should be greater emphasis on rehabilitation and community sentences and insisted there was no direct link between rising prison numbers and falling crime rates.
Attwood, who attracted international attention when he set up a blog to highlight his experiences of the barbaric and "subhuman" conditions in which "filth, squalor and disease" were the norm, said Sheriff Arpaio's tough policies did not work.
While the sheriff bragged about his tough treatment of prisoners, his jails have some of the highest death rates in the US and his actions did little to cut crime, Attwood said.
Speaking ahead of the publication of his autobiography Hard Time, an account of his time inside America's toughest jail, Attwood said: "Sheriff Joe claims that hardline policies have reduced recidivism, but he has some of the highest crime rates. He is just out doing all these PR stunts every week."
Attwood, who broke numerous drug laws and accepts full responsibility for landing himself in jail, said he was at his lowest when he was moved to maximum security after his bail was raised to 1.5 million US dollars. He said: "The cell was absolutely full of cockroaches. They don't bite, but they crawl all over you."
A graduate of Liverpool University, Attwood moved to Arizona in 1990 and worked as a stockbroker and day-trader, eventually earning a seven-figure sum. But he organised raves in the desert and supplied drugs between 2000 and 2002, eventually being sentenced in July 2004 to money laundering and drugs offences.
Hard Time: A Brit in America's Toughest Jail by Shaun Attwood is out on Thursday for £9.99.
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