Hard Time Reviews by Prisoners No. 6: 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.

Despite Hard Time being banned by the Arizona Department of Corrections for being a threat to the security of the institution, Shane managed to get his hands on a copy and risk writing this review.

The vivid reality of Hard Time made this book impossible to put down. From the time Tempe Police SWAT in black fatigues and body armour assaulted Shaun’s Scottsdale apartment until his sentence of imprisonment, I was enthralled with this book.

I’ve read dozens of books about being incarcerated. They’re a dime a dozen these days with millions of people locked up worldwide from all walks of life. Hard Time was different for me though.

Hard Time did an amazing job at showing the significant changes a person goes through physically, emotionally and mentally upon incarceration. Compounded by the draconian and inhumane conditions of confinement imposed on all who enter Joe Arpaio’s jails. Shaun’s roller-coaster ride of emotions were perfectly expressed throughout. As a writer myself, adequately expressing emotions has been difficult, but Shaun mastered it in Hard Time.

Taking responsibility for his crimes, Shaun’s regret and sorrow come across well without glamorizing drugs and crime as many books of this sort do.

Hard Time also showed how unbalanced the Arizona criminal justice system is. Despite all defendants being innocent until proven guilty, Shaun did a great job of showing how the cards are stacked against a defendant, and just how the prosecution and detectives will go to any length to “get their man.”

It’s scary to think how an innocent person could easily be arrested, charged and convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. Another reason the death penalty should be abolished.

Hard Time is a good read, however Shaun’s vivid description of his stay in Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Towers jail and the maximum-security Madison Street jail brought back memories of my own stays there, which I’d managed to stow away deep in my brain.

Guilty of my crimes, I signed a plea-agreement for 10 years, waiving my rights as a defendant’s under the constitution, so I’d be moved out of Arpaio’s jail system within a week. I’d been in MCSO custody for little more than 3 months, waiting for my first trial. I felt I couldn’t withstand waiting any longer, a far cry from the 26 months Shaun endures in Hard Time.

Shaun Attwood          


Anonymous said...

I am in agreement with most of Shane's review. As one of the first to receive the Non-US version of Hard Time (Thanks Shaun!), I am still not seeing how Shaun can come to accepting his punishment when he did nothing wrong. His crimes were committed before his arrest and there was no evidence and it was all snitching hearsay and political grandstanding, especially by the overzealous D.A. For him to admit to this I still don't understand. I grasp the morality concept and his admission to his wreckless behavior and hedonistic lifestyle, but in regards to Shaun apologizing for his "crimes" in which he was unlawfully and wrongly arrested and prosecuted for still eludes me. Shaun, you know we have traded correspondence and I am looking forward to my U.K. trip this Summer, but I just wanted to see if anyone else who read the book echo's my sentiment. Shaun, one of the things you have mentioned but never discussed was when you were smashed on and by who. Is it too traumatic to discuss or would you rather not? You did mention in Hard Time and this blog that you only endured one assault but never went into detail. If this is something you choose to keep private I certainly understand. No disrespect or mal intent putting you on blast homie. Take care and see you in a few months! -Jose in San Diego

Jon said...


The sequel to the English Shaun trilogy is going to start out with the altercation that you are referring to.

I look forward to seeing you in the UK. What dates are you here?