From Frankie (Letter 15)

Frankie - A Mexican Mafia hit man and leader of prison "booty bandits." After seeing me rubbing antifungal ointment on the bleeding bedsores on my buttocks at the Madison Street jail, he proposed we have a gay prison marriage.


What’s up my friend? I know it’s been a while since you heard from me, but I will be out again soon, and hopefully we can correspond through the computer.

I will be a daddy soon, sometime in November cuz this time that I got out I had sex all day and night. She ended up pregnant. Once my baby is born, I’ll send you a picture. 

So whatever happened with your butt sores? Did they ever come back? Me and you both know that it wasn’t cuz of the bunk. I was pounding you too hard, and I should have been easier on you.

Oh! As for Cuban Boy, he ain’t wrote to me in years. He forgot all about me.

Thank you for the book, but the prison won’t give me Hard Time With Sheriff Joe. I’ll send it home, so when I get out I can read it.

I need a good chess book with all the moves and rules cuz a lot of people make up their own rules or stuff they learn in here, and with a book I can show them the real deal.

I don’t have much time left and no parole. I’m doing 115% of my sentence cuz as of December 29th 2011 I will kill my sentence completely, but now they got some bullshit rule that if you violate parole, you have to serve 115%. It’s more time than what the judge gives you. Another scam the Arizona Department of Corrections is doing to keep prisoners in longer, so they can collect even more taxpayers money. You already know this state sucks when it comes to laws.

Let’s work on getting me a new passport, so that I can fly over to England to see you. What happened to our plans? 

Give my regards to your mom, dad and sister!

Much Love & Respect


Shaun Attwood
English Shaun

My sister, Karen, has started a Facebook page for her ebook, English Shaun, which gives the family perspective on my case and some of my early blogs:

Shaun Attwood
Question Time

Anonymous wrote:

I find your story intriguing, but I have to ask: what made you change your mind about recreational drug use?

Obviously a stint in prison - and such a grueling stint - is the legal system's way of saying "fuck you, you can't do that" but the law and someone's personal beliefs are independent of each other.

I'm a semi-regular user of certain party drugs (for simplicity let's say legal stimulants like 6-APB) but I don't see any moral dilemma -- I make a free, uncoerced decision to consume a drug by assessing the scientific data published about it.

As a man with far more life experience, your opinion really interests me. I'd love to know the moral and intellectual process you went through to get from dealer to anti-drug use speaker.


Thanks for the deep question. I know how drugs start and how they end. Where are the old drug addicts? Either dead, in prison, or mental hospital. It's a lottery, but over time, poisoning your body loses its fun and does you in. I just lost two more friends to drugs in recent months, including Joey Crack from Hard Time. It's reached the point now where I'm wondering which of my friends are going to die next.

Shaun Attwood
From T-Bone (Letter 15) and My Response

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.

The guy I mentioned in my last letter, who keeps trying to turn out the youngsters who need things, raised his voice at me after he bumped into me. He yelled at me in front of a guard. I thank God for self-control. The cops have been watching for some time now, waiting to see if I would kick his sick ass, but I know their game. This guy is a rat, and yes, the Administration doesn’t like him, but I will not do their dirty work!

This place is the pits. I thank God for letting me experience it one last time, so that I won’t ever go back to the way of thinking that leads to places like this.

I’ve had female sexual offers to do work for people who are in the mix, but I am not prepared to risk my freedom and my life, so I said NO with total conviction. I even pushed one guy across the room, and into a toilet.

I am not into being anyone’s sucker, and I hope and pray that you, Shaun, my friend, are being careful because you are going to be BIG, and don’t be fooled – that day is coming. You will be making movies, including mine, and I am not going to allow anything or anyone to get in the way of me keeping my commitments.

I know the workload has been rough on you, and you have a lot of young people who look up to you. We all need a little time to play, but don’t give in to thoughts of doing something that alters your mind. Be on guard, my friend, and never let go of doing right.

My Response to T-Bone:

I am being careful, T-Bone. Everything is expanding so positively, I imagine it will get BIG. If it gets to the movie level, I’d like to repay my parents for my legal fees. Success doesn’t come easy – it is a long hard hunt through a vicious jungle where dangerous animals are waiting to gobble you up and poisonous plants tear at your skin. But I will make it, no matter how many years of hard work it takes. We will sit down, and get your life story out as a book and a movie.

Regarding playtime, if I’m not working, I’m at the fitness centre. I have three more belts to go to black in karate. Mind mind-altering substances are far from my mind. I barely drink alcohol these days as the hangover is such a waste of time. I am always on guard, and thanks to prison, I can see right through the people who are trying to trip me up.

Click here to join the T-Bone Appreciation Society 

T-Bone's Kindle ebook. UK version. US version. Or download to your PC from All proceeds going to help T-Bone in prison.

Shaun Attwood
When Not to Smash Someone - A Lesson From My Karate Friends

In a US jail, if some calls you a “punk”, a “bitch” or gets in your face and is abusive, the convict code requires you to hit that person or else you get smashed by gang members of your own race. Unfortunately, this sets you up with a fist-clenching reaction for the rest of your life towards disrespectful loudmouths.

Last night, I went to London with ten people from my karate club (Guildford Seiki-Juku), nearly all black belts, two senseis (our teachers), one a 3rd Dan (third-degree black belt). Setting off to watch and support a local cage fighter, Nick “HeadHunter” Chapman, I wondered what would happen if muggers or drunks tried to accost my friends.

On the way home, three drunks started yelling at us. One kicked a can at us, and shouted in a loud and challenging way, almost obstructing our path across a bridge. Gripped by the prison reaction, I braced for a fight, but the black belts swerved around the drunks as if they didn’t exist, the flow of their conversation continuing as if nothing had happened.

I found such a mature response interesting in comparison to the jail experience.

Shaun Attwood  
The Chow Hall in Tough Times (by Kenneth Hartman)

It’s a real honour to introduce this post. Serving life in California, Kenneth Hartman is one of the best prison writers I’ve ever come across. I highly recommend his book, Mother California.

The guards are lined up mere feet apart, ready to pounce on extra cartons of milk or stray, smuggled pieces of fruit. Since the news that the courts have ordered the shrinking of the bloated prison system in California, there’s a harsher, more aggressive posture. These are tough times in the joint for all of us, on both sides of the fence, albeit for different reasons.
A short female guard motions to me as I walk out across their skirmish line. She appears to be particularly unhinged; probably from working too many overtime shifts, trying to make some extra bank before that becomes a lot harder.
The stress level in these encounters is high for the searcher no less than the searched. Occasionally, a prisoner can’t take being muscled around any longer and spins on the offending guard. I’ve never done anything like that, not in my entire 32 years incarcerated, but I can see how it happens.
I’m over six feet tall so she has trouble reaching up high enough to pat me down. Frustrated, the little guard is now barking out barely intelligible orders to spread my legs farther out and straighten my arms, while she’s pushing my waist around in front of her. I realize this isn’t really a search. This is part of a plan.
In California, the guards are all part of a union that de facto runs the prisons. Traditionally, whenever a court steps into their business and orders changes, the guards provoke some violence. It’s always worked to hide the failure of the prisons behind a wall of chaos and strife.
Back in the early ‘80s, when I was at Folsom Prison, a federal judge demanded the practice of locking people up in the hole for alleged gang activities without any actual evidence be ended. In response to this usurpation, two tiers of cells were cleared out and 56 blacks and four Mexicans were put on one of the tiers with the reverse imbalance on the other. Then they cranked open all the cells at the same time with the gun post guards on the other side of the building. Mind you, this was during a hot war between these two groups.
After the entirely predictable results, the poor federal judge reversed his order.
This time around it’s going to be harder because the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t often back down.
When she realized she couldn’t get a rise out of me, she dismissed me in a huff, babbling some incomprehensible gibberish as I walked on back to the housing units.
All of this revved up angst and irritation on their part can be explained by two very human responses. The first being the old kick-the-dog-syndrome common amongst second graders after mom chastises them and public employees when they’re getting kicked off the great gravy train of taxpayer dollars.
More fundamentally though, at the deeper levels, it’s all about fear. Fear of an uncertain future. Fear of serious and consequential scrutiny. Fear of being exposed. The prisons in this state, and all across this country, have operated with virtual impunity for the past quarter of a century. Reagan’s judges granted the system practical immunity from prosecution. The money poured in to pay for the biggest, most expensive, and least effective prison system in the world. Thanks to the Great Recession the dynamic has changed. This bottomless well of overtime and unfunded liability is, finally, getting capped. Punishment for the sake of inflicting pain is now too expensive to continue.
When I walk out of the chow hall and see them all lined up, primed and pumped up for a fight, I just imagine them standing in line at the unemployment office. Somehow, they don’t seem so menacing that way.
Kenneth E. Hartman has served 32 continuous years in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on a life without the possibility of parole sentence. An award-winning writer and prison reform activist, he is the author of Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars, (Atlas & Co. 2009), a memoir of life in prison. For more information, see He can be contacted indirectly at or
As this is Kenneth’s first post at JJJ, your comments are really appreciated.
Shaun Attwood

Students Spring Out of Their Seats at St. Edward’s School Visit

When I showed them the picture of the spider-bite wound, the room erupted into chaos. I could only stand and drink water. Here’s the video:


The Year 9 students at St. Edward’s in Oxfordshire were a great audience. When the Q&A started, half of the hands shot up. I walked slowly from the front of the church to the back, answering every question row-by-row. The students at the back held their hands up for half an hour.

Shaun Attwood
Medical Issues (Part 4 by Lifer Renee)

Renee Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence. Sixteen years later, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

Yet again, I walked as fast as a I could to Medical, anxiety killing me. First come, first served. There were six of us.
The officer collected our ID’s. “Take a seat on the bench. You’re on count!” he barked.
Sitting down, I told myself, Just breathe.
At least fifteen minutes went by. The nurse called my name. I jumped off the bench, and walked into Medical.
“Sit down. We need to get your vitals,” she said. No eye contact.
My eyes scanned the Pepto-Bismol-pink walls as the temperature probe went into my mouth and the blood-pressure sleeve was wrapped around my arm. Again, I told myself, Just breathe. 
All done, I was ushered outside to wait. I wondered what to say in case they tried to brush my problems under the rug as is so typical in prison.

Later, my name was called, so I walked into the provider’s office.
“So what is going on?” he asked, clasping his hands together.
As I explained my symptoms for the last nine months, he just looked at me through his glasses with a blank face. I told him my ear hurt right now, and my throat was sore.
He checked my right ear, and told me that at one time my ear had been punctured. “It has scar tissue.”
“I don’t ever recall my eardrum being punctured,” I said, staring blankly ahead.
“Your ears are fine,” he said.
“It may look fine, but it hurts.”
“Let me check your throat.”
I opened my mouth, my frustration rising.
“Yeah, it’s a little red. Tilt your head back.” He shone a light up my nostrils.
“Oh, you have a sinus infection,” he said.
“For nine months?” I asked.
He gave me a how-dare-you-make-me-do-my-job look. He placed his hand as if grabbing my esophagus, and told me to swallow.
With difficulty, I managed to swallow.
“Hold on. Swallow again.”
Oh shit, I told myself.  I managed another swallow.
“Your thyroid gland is swollen. I am going to order some lab work. It is either hypo- or hyper-thyroidism. I think hyper, but we won’t know until the tests come back. I will try to schedule you for the lab work and see you again within the month. If I haven’t seen you in two weeks after lab line send me a HNR.” It sounded as if he were speaking Greek.
I asked him about the X-rays taken of my neck and shoulder.
“Oh yeah, you have degenerative bone disease in your C5 and C7 vertebras. You’re too young to have the surgery to fuse the vertebras together,” he stated matter-of-factly.
My jaw hit the floor. All my mental notes gone. I walked out of Medical with $4 less on my inmate account, and no medicine for my sinus infection. Dumbfounded.

Shaun Attwood
My Next Book: A Raver on Wall Street – Prequel to Hard Time

I’ve just submitted the prequel to my literary agent. It’s tentatively titled A Raver on Wall Street.

It starts with the destabilising event that shaped my life: taking drugs for the first time at a rave in Manchester. Chapter 2 sets up the background and covers history with certain characters including Wild Man and my aunt Sue, using quick-fire anecdotes. The main action begins in Chapter 3 when I arrive in America. The book has some common literary plots: rags to riches, stranger in a foreign land, internal mental struggle. The latter being the overriding theme – my battle with drugs. I've also layered in reoccurring themes that build towards an explosive end. In the prequel are lots of characters from Hard Time.

Here’s its blurb in draft form:

As a penniless student, Shaun Attwood moved to America, and became a stock-market millionaire. But he also led a dangerous double life, throwing raves and distributing Ecstasy, going up against drug kingpin and Mafia mass murderer “Sammy the Bull” Gravano. A Raver on Wall Street is a rags-to-riches story – of a life spiralling out of control. Wild women, gangsters, fast cars, parties galore, enough drugs to kill a herd of elephants. It can only end in one way – disaster.

Any improvements on the title or blurb are welcome in the comments section below.

Wild Man fans will be pleased to know that he is in almost 25 percent of the prequel. Here’s an anecdote from Chapter 2:

Seventeen and I’m up Pex Hill with my two best friends, Hammy – a year younger than me, built more solidly, much sought after by the girls – and Peter, who we now call Wild Man, a nickname given to him – based on misbehaviour – by his Uncle Bob, a whiskey-nosed old-timer. We’re sat on a tree leaning over a sandstone quarry that we call The Thinking Tree.
Marvelling at the drop below, I ask, “What’re you two gonna do when you finish school?”
“I’m going to prison,” Wild Man says.
“Why’s that?” I ask.
“I see these red and white dots.”
“Red and white dots! Why’d you see them?” I ask.
“White dots are fine. They’re normal every-man’s anger. Red dots are slaughter.”
“How often do you see the red ones?” Hammy asks.
“More than enough.”
Hammy’s laugh declares how proud he is of Wild Man’s ability to see dots.
“Are the red dots because of your brother beating you up?” I ask.
“I can’t even have a wank without getting punched in the face by our Sweat,” Wild Man says.
“But look at the size of you!” I say. “I’m surprised you haven’t thrown him through a window.”
“The teachers at Fairfield are so scared of Peter,” Hammy says, “they’ve stuck him outside, raking leaves with the caretaker.” Hammy and Wild Man attend the same Protestant school, whereas I’m at Widnes Sixth Form College doing A levels.
“What about when you finish school, Hammy?” I ask.
“I don’t know. What about you, Atty?”
“I’m going to be a millionaire in America.”
“You probably will with all that stock-market stuff,” Hammy says.
“Will you take us with you?” Wild Man asks.
“Defo. I’m not going to stop until I buy my own island. When I make enough money, I’ll fly you two over.” I have it all figured out: I’m going to repeat the success of the legendary investors I read about.
 “If you bring Wild Man over, you’d better build a cage for him first. We’ll give him grub, but won’t let him out. When he misbehaves, we’ll poke him with sticks.”
Wild Man snaps a branch off the tree. His eyes search below. “What’s it like in America, Atty?” He hurls the branch at hikers in the quarry. It misses. They spot us, scowl, shake fists. Wild Man smiles and waves.
“The people talk funny, but they’re dead friendly,” I say. “The birds buzz off our accents. Everything’s massive. Roads. Houses. Cars. And they’ve all got swimming pools in their back yards.”
“In their back yards!” Wild Man says.
“Like on The Beverly Hillbillies?” Hammy asks.
“Yes, exactly,” I say.
“Bloody hell!” Hammy says.
“How come they all have swimming pools in their back yards?” Wild Man asks.
“Because they’re dead rich. When the plane comes in to land, you see all the swimming pools. America’s the richest country in the world. That’s why it’s easy to be a millionaire there. Even you can get a job as a wrestler or something, and you won’t end up in prison.” I’ll see to it that Wild Man has a good life in America. “There’s no hope for you in Widnes.”
    “There’s no hope for any of us in Widnes, Atty,” Wild Man says. “That’s why you’re going to America.”
Medical Issues (Part 3 by Lifer Renee)

Renee Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence. Now 16 years in, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

Three weeks later, Ms. G came to my cell door. “You have provider line tomorrow at noon. Can you sign here?”
I jumped up off my bunk, my mouth instantly dry, stomach in knots. I signed. “Thanks, Ms. G.”

I got up the following morning with questions running through my mind. I made a mental list of everything. 4am to noon was painfully long as if I were sleep walking through the day. Having not worked in a week, I spent my day on the yard, vaguely listening to all of the bitching and moaning about how bad prison life sucks.
“Lock down!” an officer yelled, stopping the bitching.
I walked to my cell. Hearing the door click behind me, alone in my cell, I once again stared at the four walls and paced the concrete floor.

When headcount cleared at noon for recreation, I shot out the door and the yard gate. I made a mad dash for Medical, wanting to be first in line. I did not even get to knock on the door because the Medical Porter opened it.
“What yard are you from?” she asked.
“24,” I replied.
“They are seeing 26 yard right now. They’ll call for 24 when they’re done.”
“But my appointment is at noon,” I said, trying to contain my frustration.
“They split the yards because of the custody levels, so the provider has to finish 26 yard.”

Disappointed, I walked back to the yard, and waited. 1pm, 2pm, 2:30pm…
My roommate arrived. “What did Medical say?”
“Haven’t been there yet. Don’t think I’m going to. Who knows? I don’t,” I replied, continuing to stare at the TV.
Frustrated, I went outside. Thank goodness no one wants to talk. Perhaps they can feel the waves of frustration coming off me.
3pm, 3:30pm…
“OK. It is almost headcount. I think it’s safe to say, I’m not going to Medical.”
“Doesn’t look that way,” my roommate replied with a sympathetic expression.
A few seconds later, my door opened, meaning Medical was ready to see me.

Shaun Attwood
Brighton Hill Community College Visit

Did four talks at Brighton Hill Community College, Basingstoke on Friday. Sometimes the students are shy about wearing the jail outfits, but not here. They enthusiastically jumped into the outfits, and read great.

Shaun Attwood

Seven Months Left (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 to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

With my release date getting closer, I’m growing more anxious. Although I’ve managed to get into trouble recently, I attribute those errors to legitimate pain from my systemic lupus medical condition, and my frustration at ADOC’s Medical for refusing to give me care.

Instead of making more mistakes, I’m concentrating on suing ADOC again for violating my rights. I am also seeking legal remedies for ADOC violating my hep C lawsuit settlement agreement. I’ll be a free man in court.

I have purchased a house, and my friends and small family are all waiting for me in the free world. I have also met an awesome woman who is travelling across the ocean to meet and get to know me. Emphasizing the reality of my release date nearing, my release packet was filled out yesterday. Now I await prison approval of my residence and release.

So far, Shane sounds level-headed about his release. Will he succumb to “gate fever”? The tendency of inmates to lose their minds as freedom approaches due to the mental pressure arising from contemplating the adjustment.   

Click here for Shane’s blog Persevering Prison Pages.

Shaun Attwood
Cockroach Handstamping

Last Saturday at Waterstone's Trafford Centre

Shaun Attwood
Westminster School Visit

 With my readers from the first session.
With my readers from the second session.
The school provided not just any old water but their own brand: Westminster Water.

Due to endless questions the talks lasted for an hour and a half. Two City of London policewomen were present who are recommending my talk to schools in their area. Also present was the author, Meg Rosoff, who was on the news last week accused of blasphemy by a Christian independent school that banned her from visiting. The blasphemy allegation stems from her latest book, There Is No Dog, in which God is a horny teenage boy. I'm reading Meg's first book, How I Live Now, which sold over half a million copies in its first year. Meg has a warm humourous voice, and the book has a Catcher in the Rye quality to it. The sentences are simple and clear with literary flourishes made more powerful by their low frequency.

Shaun Attwood