Waterstone's Manchester Trafford Centre Book Signing

Other than getting accosted every hour by the giant Waterstone's caterpillar (see the pics below), everything ran smoothly today. After two hours, the regional branch manger pointed out that the fantasy-book author who was also signing books at the same store, had raced ahead of me on sales. As intended, the news stirred up my competitive spirit. I felt suddenly alive.
All offers of food and drink by the kindly staff were declined:
"Would you like us to nip out and get you a bite to eat or a coffee?"
"I don't eat or drink when I'm this focussed. I'm a sales machine. But thanks for asking."
The branch manager approached, "You've taken that movie Wall Street to heart haven't you: 'Lunch is for whimps.'"
"Yes, Gordon Gekko!"
But I did allow Mum two coffee breaks.    

A woman approached with a gaggle of kids who threatened to capsize my display by tugging on the tablecloth.
In order to disract them from the destruction they had in mind, I showed them my cockroach stamps. "I've got a question for you kids. Which colour cockroaches should I stamp my signature with in your mum's book: black or red?"
"Stamp them on my hand!" said a kid, sticking his arm out.
"And my hand!"
Half a dozen kids all stuck their arms out at once, yelling either red or black.
I looked at their mum. "I'm not stamping anything on them without your permission. I don't want to get done for child abuse. That's a KOS charge in prison by the gangs: Kill on sight."
She authorized the stamping of the hands, which proceeded much to the amusement of the shoppers, and the regional branch manager who even offered his hand for a stamp.

The plans I was molling over to do away with the fantasy author didn't need to be put into effect as by mid-afternoon Mum and I had forged ahead on sales. By the end of the signing, we had smashed the previous sales record at that branch for a local author by selling 57 copies of Hard Time. The manager also said that Hard time was the top selling book throughout the country thanks to the signing. The Trafford Centre Waterstone's was the biggest store we've gone to so far. We're back there tomorrow.

Click here for the previous Waterstone's signing blog.    

Shaun Attwood, Waterstone's Manchester Trafford Centre
The New Year (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.

So much happened in the last year, I feel as though I just stand still and watch the chaos around me.

I spent New Year’s Day switching bunks with my current roommate. I have been on a lower bunk – well, I can not count the years – for a while. The change was needed for me. We started around 8am, and it was an all-day event because everything was flipped. I do feel a little more settled.

The weather has changed drastically. It rained for a full day and a half. Then it was a full day of bone-chilling wind. For the last three days, I went outside, and there has been ice on the ground. These conditions make me seclude myself inside my room. It was actually a nice break as the waves of negativity around here never stop when you are among the prison population.

Click here for Renee’s previous blog.

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

Shaun Attwood
Interview at Berhamsted School

After my talk at Berkhamsted School yesterday, I was interviewed by Sacha van Straten. Here's a link to the interview:

Shaun Attwood - author of Jon's Jail Journal ipadio Talk to your World
Duties of the Head of the Race (Part 1 with Wild Man)

Wild Man - My large and fearless raving partner from my hometown. He looked out for me in Arpaio’s jail after we were arrested, and is one of the main characters in Hard Time.

In prison, the inmates separate themselves racially. Each race has a leader called the head. Under the head are torpedoes – inmates who will smash someone for the head of the race no questions asked. Due to his fighting skills, Wild Man was crowned the head of the whites several times. In this blog, Wild Man and I discuss what is expected of the head.

“I know that the head of the race briefs the newcomers, the fish,” I said. “He helps indigent inmates get stuff like hygiene supplies, stamps and writing paper. He handles situations with the other races to try to prevent race riots. What other duties are there?”

“The head has to make sure all of the guys under 35 go and work out,” Wild Man said.

“Mandatory rec,” I said, referring to recreation.

“Yes. The reason is that if anything jumps off like a race riot, you need your youngsters and torpedoes healthy, so they can fight. We even did strong-man competitions with the other races. The heads will get together and throw a $100 of store in for the winner. You’ve got to give the youngsters incentives because if they want to rebel and they do, they can easily smash the older guys. I had six dorms in one of my buildings. In each dorm, I had a dorm head. I had to smack one of them in the face for disrespecting one of his youngsters. I was sat there talking to the dorm head, and he said to the youngster, ‘Hey, fucker, you haven’t even cleaned my floor yet!’ I thought, I’m just gonna ignore this as he’s trying to impress me. Then, as the youngster went past, the dorm head said, ‘Hey, I told you once. Get my fucking floor fucking polished.’ I said to the dorm head, ‘Are you paying him to do that, mate?’ He said, ‘No,’ so I stood up, smacked him, and said, ‘Who the fuck are you, mama’s boy?’ You have to pay the youngsters and give them incentives. You don’t treat them like shit like that. That annoyed me. If your youngsters behave bad, then you have to discipline them. Nine times out of ten, I wouldn’t punch them, I’d open-palm them, which would knock them on their arses anyway. I hated having to do that, but I’d give them enough warnings. You can’t start looking weak or else the old-timers will pull you to one side, and give you stories about what happened to so and so in The Walls who lost control of the youngsters, and ended up getting his throat slit.”

“What else does the head do?” I asked.

“If one of the guards is disrespectful to one of the races, then the head of that race is supposed to stand up, not in an aggressive manner, but to explain to the guards why it is disrespectful.”

“How would he go about that?” I asked.

“Nine times out of ten he would go and see the counsellor and say to the counsellor, ‘Look, shits about to hit the fan ’cause of this guard,’ and explain the reason why. The counsellor will go to the duty sergeant, and the sergeant, nine times out of ten, will pull the guard up. Also, the heads of all the races at some of the yards I was at would have a meeting with the captain every week. They’d sit down and have coffee, and discuss whether the yard was running smoothly or what the problems are. The captains aren’t stupid. The captain might say, ‘Such and such is obviously doing drugs. Tell him to keep it down,’ and it’ll come downhill then. The guards know all of the drug stuff that’s going on. They just don’t want it in their faces ’cause that’s disrespecting them.”

Click here for Wild Man's previous blog

The above photo of Wild Man is a response to all of the emails I've been getting from people who've read Hard Time, and said that Wild Man looks too nice in the photo in Hard Time to have committed the acts I've described in the book. To gauge his size, bear in mind that the jail outfit he is wearing is a 5XL. Some of you may also want to start bracing yourselves for Wild Man's antics in the prequel to Hard Time.   
From Polish Avenger (Letter 3)

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.

We nearly lost Jack a while back due to lupus. He’s gaining strength, but still mostly in a wheelchair. Poor bugger. I suggested he demand Buddhist Sky Burial when the time comes. That’ll make the Arizona Department of Corrections have a fit!

I think your repeated attempts to get Hard Time in here are a lost cause. I never ever even knew it had arrived and been sent back. They are supposed to send us a notice, but I suspect that it’s so controversial (i.e. truthful) that the staff just quietly fired it back. Blighters! Ah well, come 2015, I’ll be able to read it on the outside, dammit, so I’ll wait for that. Hell, by then I should be able to just download it to my iPod Mark 7. :)

Making that float was insane, and also the most hours I’ve put into anything in years. One Saturday was kick ass, as we rigged up the stereo and had The Prodigy blasting away.

Click here for Shit Slingers V.
Click here for Letter 2 from Polish Avenger.

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Post comments and questions for Polish Avenger below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.
Family Sues For $3million Over Death of Inmate

At Tucson prison - where I once resided - a mentally-ill inmate, Tony Lester, had just come off suicide watch when he was given access to a razor blade in a hygiene kit. He slit his throat and fell onto the floor. The guards responded. Shocked by the amount of blood, they did nothing to save his life. They just watched him bleed to death. The guards have since cited their lack of medical training and fear that Anthony had a weapon for not trying to stop the bleeding.
Adobe Mountain (by Guest Blogger Big Jason)

Big Jason was incarcerated as a youth in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Durango jail and the Arizona Department of Corrections Adobe Mountain juvenile facility for assault, attempted burglary, and violation of probation.

Visitation was about to end and by now most of the parents had left for the night, leaving a few scattered groups of incarcerated youth at tables looking bored. With my belly full from Tom's barbecue and my mind in a good place from a satisfying visit, I waved my parents goodbye and sat back down to await the corrections officers’ orders.

A friend of mine who had been sitting close to us was acting kind of weird. He motioned for me to get closer, and told me that his mom had left him some cigarettes, but he didnt know how to get them back to our unit. I told him I couldn't help because I had no way to get them back either.
“Line up for count!” a guard yelled.
We formed a single file down the hallway from the visitation room.
“Strip down, clothes in front. You know the routine, ladies.” We were young men and some boys, but they loved to humiliate us and bust our balls.
By now I was wondering how soon it would be before they found the tobacco contraband and locked us down.
“Bend over and spread your cheeks,” was barked at us by the head CO, a portly man with grizzled hair and an attitude to match.
Reluctantly, we complied and continued the routine under their gazing eyes. Having finished the strip search, the CO's marched us back to our units and went about business as usual, or so I thought.

An hour or so went by and I saw the CO's drive up to the unit, headlights blaring against the dark contrast of the desert.
It’s on now, I thought.
They came in and started asking people who had been at Visitation. They reached my cell, and one said, “Roll up. Let’s go. We know it was you.”
I pleaded that the cigarettes weren’t mine, but it fell on deaf ears. Before I could really mount any verbal defense, I was cuffed and on the back of an electric cart that headed to the isolation unit known as GOLF. This place consisted of a security shack, dungeon-like cells (with more bugs than the Starship Troopers trilogy), mucous and semen covered the walls and ceiling, globs of which had formed geological shapes from hardening halfway through a slow hang. Once again I was asked to “Strip down and spread ’em,” and issued a jumpsuit and flop flops.

The cell they escorted me to was the worst on the line. It was the rear cell that never got cleaned, no light, just filth. You passed the time by trying to stay curled up in a ball to prevent the hordes of translucent bugs and other assortment of crawlies from making a home on your person. If you were lucky, you might get a bible or some old-school “Murf the Surf” story to read once the shift change happened.
Again I tried to explain to the guards that I was not responsible and the cigarettes weren’t mine. I was told by a guard named C.O. Archibald that I was a bad liar as he slammed the cell door in my face.

An hour or so had passed when the second guy in charge of the whole institution under Phil Anderson showed up and began to ask me questions about Visitation, reiterating the fact that none of them believed me and that I was in big trouble. He didn't want to hear any excuses. I was guilty and that was that.
A day and some hours passed without any more questioning or talks. I was released back to my unit. Now with a loss of privileges and level deduction over this incident. I was ready to kick some ass and deal with some punks who sent the guards my way.

It didn't take long before I realized that the so-called friend I had was to blame. He had already transferred to a different unit to avoid the smashing he would have received from me had he been there. No staff or CO's ever mentioned this to me again. Visits resumed as normal, and I never saw that kid again for the remainder of my incarceration.

So many crazy things went on at Adobe Mountain in those days (1989-91) that it became national news and brought forth many changes in the programs and staff at Adobe. But I found out later that the same abuses are still happening as exposed in many Phoenix New Times articles.

I look forward to sharing some of what happened in those times with you. Hope you guys enjoy reading them as I enjoy sharing them.

Big Jason

As this is Big Jason’s first guest post at Jon’s Jail Journal, your comments are appreciated.

Click here for the previous guest blog.