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