Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial

Channel 4 just called. I'm on standby to go live tonight on Part 2 of the TV program Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial. I find out for sure in 2 hours if I'm going on. Whether I'm on or not, I strongly recommend people watch Part 2 tonight at 10pm (UK time). They have a cross section of volunteers taking Ecstasy and getting monitored afterwards, including a female priest, a politician, and a massive former SAS soldier. Here's the link to watch it worldwide on the internet when it comes available at 10pm UK time:  http://www.channel4.com/programmes/drugs-live-the-ecstasy-trial/episode-guide/series-1

Shaun Attwood

T-Bone on Unicorns and the Att-Att Bird

Shaun Attwood

Guest at my Sister's Blog

My sister posted an excerpt from my latest letter to Jack to her blog: http://www.ourlifewithleukaemia.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/guest-blog-shauns-letter-to-jack.html
It's about visiting my neice, Yasmin, in the children's cancer ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital.  
Shaun Attwood

Burlington Danes Academy

With Charles and Yasmin, brilliant drama students who helped my talk today in Central London.

Shaun Attwood 

Bradfield College Visit

With Sam and Freddie. Had to take a painkiller and a Vocalzone pill to croak my way through Saturday's talk, and now have hardly any voice left. That's what I get for yelling at ballerinas on Thursday.

Shaun Attwood

Greetings from the Abyss by Jack (Part 6)

Jack is serving life without parole, and has terminal cancer. Throughout my incarceration, Jack was a positive influence. He encouraged me to keep writing, to enter short-story competitions, and we proofread each other’s chapters. Jack is seeking pen pals, so anyone interested please eamil me at attwood.shaun@hotmail.co.uk for his details.

Hello, my friend. How are you today? Well, I hope. I’ve been under the weather the last few days, but feel much better this evening. I received your two letters today, or should I say, one letter and the closing of your book. I am extremely proud of you, and your accomplishments. I believe you’ve only brushed the surface of what I predict will be an enormous award-packed literary career. Soon your lecture circuit will include presentations on how to be a highly regarded and successful writer, along with those presentations that you give now. The impact you have on those around you is everlasting, just look at how you impacted all of us here in purgatory. But remember, once you further gain fame and fortune, always be true to yourself. I know it’s a tired old cliché, but no one else will have your best interest in heart more so than you.

I’m glad that the howl of the wolves doesn’t trigger a large enough desire in you to rejoin the pack. After all of these years, I too still hear that siren’s song, but can proudly say that I’ve been able to stay the course. Even now with my medical problems making the threat of disciplinary actions untenable, I am still not swayed. I guess there really isn’t a viable reason for me not to falter, other than my own personal belief system, which, it just so happens, is the only thing that DOC can’t take away from me, and it is the only thing that I refuse to relinquish.

Quick update on my medical situation. I had a bad reaction to the chemo during my last session and had to be hospitalised for a short period of time. Right after that I developed the shingles, which was not fun at all. I went back to the oncologist on Aug 6th, luckily for me the oncology clinic just installed a CT scanner in July, so the clinic went ahead and put their new CT scanner through its paces, and drew all the necessary blood for the cancer work also. I’ll be going back sometime in the near future for the outcome of these tests. I am hopeful for remission, but understand the issues at hand, that it is only a temporary respite. This type of cancer can’t be cured, but can be knocked down for a while. It’s mine, I own it, so I might as well be comfortable with it. I’m at a relatively good place now mentally. The stoic in me accepts what has occurred and what will occur. My biggest concern is the loss of what little control I have over my life. I know that eventually I will go down the same path as Two Tonys. I just hope to maintain control until then. Anyway, wish me luck and keep me in mind for the upcoming announcement.

I do miss writing, whether it be awkward attempts at creating from whole cloth or writing to those few people I stay in touch with. I haven’t done nearly enough of either in the past few years. I want to reconnect with my friends and family while I still can. Besides, it’s my fault if they don’t want to write since I haven’t been exactly burning up the postal system with my missives. I’m even willing to take on new responsibilities, such as new pen pals, so if you know of anyone wanting to write a well-used (read:worn out) hack please pass along my name and number.

You asked about sending me books. My tastes are rather plebeian. I’m not trying to expand my mind as much as I once did. Anything dealing with English, Scottish or American history or historical fiction is fine by me. Truthfully, anything would be fine by me, although I’m not real keen on you spending money on me. I’m quite sure you can find more worthwhile things to indulge in.

Well, my friend, it’s late and I’m tired. We didn’t work last week or today, so you would think I would be well rested. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way anymore. The weather here has been typical for this time of year, 110 degrees, and high humidity. The monsoon keeps just to the south of us, so we don’t get much relief. I think that part of my problem stems from the weather. Hopefully, we’ll only have another month or so fo this high heat, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the humidity will dissipate in the next couple of weeks. I am looking forward to a substantial weather improvement.

Take care of yourself. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,


Shaun Attwood   

Ballerinas and Wig Pic

We, the karate team beat, the ballerinas in the Tug of Straw milk commercial filmed yesterday, but I'm not allowed to publish any pics until October when the commercial is released. In the meantime, here I am in a wig I found in the studio that I borrowed to freak my friends by doing a Riff Raff impersonation.

Shaun Attwood 

Irlam and Cadishead College Visit

With Amy and Katie
Shaun Attwood

Sedbergh School Visit

Shaun Attwood

Milk Commercial

Back in Guildford after nonstop talks and travel up north as far as Cumbria. Being filmed in London for a milk commercial tomorrow with 5 other members of my karate team. We've been paired against a team of ballet dancers in a competition called Tug of Straw. Not quite sure what I'm getting into, but the filming lasts for 5 hours and I've been told I'll be drinking a lot of milk and getting milk all over me. The latest email from the ballet dancers states that they are going to kick our arses and show us all up on camera. I can feel my competitive spirit coming alive.

Shaun Attwood

Greetings from the Abyss by Jack (Part 5)

Jack is serving life without parole. Throughout my incarceration, Jack was a constant positive influence. He encouraged me to keep writing, to enter short-story competitions, and we proofread each other’s work. 

Hello my friend, it’s been too long since I wrote. In my defense, I’ve been in and out of the hospital for the last two years. I became extremely sick and collapsed on the road outside of my housing unit. I had to be flown to the hospital. It was touch and go for a few days. I was in ICU for a week and then another week in recovery. I had 23 blood transfusions before I stabilized. Turns out that I have advance stage cancer, small lymphocytic lymphoma, stage IVb. Basically, that means I’m near the end, at least that’s what the oncologist says. I think I’ll fool him and live a while longer. 

Congratulations on Hard Time. I enjoyed it, and am quite pleased it is doing so well. I look forward to your next book, and the next and the next… I always knew that you would do well. Your acknowledgement in Hard Time was very generous and appreciated. I haven’t written anything for a while now. I collected a fair amount of rejection letters before throwing in the towel. The logistics of writing in here has become onerous. I have few, if any, real possibilities of having my poor writing transcribed into anything legible. I realize this is just another excuse, but it has become easy to accept, and I have done so. 

Shaun, thank you for everything you have done for me, and those of us who are still incarcerated. You have gone above and beyond to bring a ray of hope and normalcy to our lives. Take care of yourself and continued success in whatever you undertake.

Best wishes always,


Shaun Attwood

Hard Time Reviews Rise Over 100 on Amazon UK

Three new reviews in September pushed Hard Time to 102 reviews. With 92 five-star reviews, Hard Time is one of the highest star-ranked memoirs on Amazon. A big thank you to everyone who has posted a review.

Click here to read the reviews or to leave a review.

The most recent review made me laugh as the reviewer bumped into someone on holiday reading Hard Time:

5.0 out of 5 stars
An amazing book that all should read, 11 Sep 2012
This review is from: Hard Time: A Brit in America's Toughest Jail (Paperback)
As I was reading this book on my holidays recently the guy on the next sunbed leaned over and flashed the cover of the same book. It became the subject of our conversation over the next few days and we both agreed that it was a gripping, amazing but shocking story. Once I started reading I could not put the book down. The story is a real eye opener into what goes on over there and the justice system in general. I will be reading the prequel and sequel to the book at soon as they are published..

Shaun Attwood     

Hereford Cathedral School

Harriet and Jonathan
Shaun Attwood

Darkness is Closing In (Guest blog by Paul John Denham)

I met Paul's mother, Molly, at a Koestler Trust exhibition of prisoners' art in 2009. I was admiring one of Paul's portraits when Molly told me about her son's sad story as conveyed in this guest blog. Englishman Paul is suffering life without parole for a crime he never committed. His transfer to the UK prison system was denied, and he is going blind.

I have named this painting ’Darkness is Closing in’, because I suffer from a genetic eye condition that leads to blindness, and this painting expresses sombre elements which have lead to my incarceration.

It is a self-portrait in which I wear a splint, I have beard stubble, and a blind man’s stick hangs from my right wrist. I stand in a pit whilst above me a silencer welding hoodlum and a Klansman shower me with disrespect.

I was arrested in 1997 and convicted in 1998 of two crimes that I did not commit. Both of the crimes occurred at night. Yet my trial lawyer failed to introduce into the trial that I am night blind. During one crime the victim described his attacker as clean shaven, wearing black gloves, and a red hooded sweatshirt. But my trial lawyer never introduced information that I had a fractured hand, I had beard stubble, and I didn’t own a red hooded sweatshirt.

Furthermore, before he died the victim made a statement that I was not his attacker. Yet, the judge did not allow the jury to hear this. Neither did he allow evidence about seven attacks on the victim’s home when it had been set on fire and painted ’Klu Klux Klan House’  The suspects to these were described as African Americans. I am white.

I told my trial judge that I had eye problems and he ignored this and passed sentence. Upon arrival in prison in 1998 I informed staff I suffered from blindness. They gave me a pair of glasses and told me to go away. I continued to complain and in 2012 I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. This is a condition that I was born with.

It starts with night blindness in adolescence and leads to total blindness. Today my vision is compared to looking through drinking straws.  Although I do not see the blind areas as blackness, they may as well be.  Because I am serving life without parole and no matter how hard I push on the walls around me. I can’t stop the darkness closing in.

Paul John Denham  Salinas Valley State Prison

Shaun Attwood

My Neice Has Cancer

My brave sister, Karen, has decided to go public about the news that has devastated my whole family in the past month. My neice Yasmin, her two year old, has cancer, leukemia. Please give Karen support by reading her blog:  http://ourlifewithleukaemia.blogspot.co.uk/

Shaun Attwood

Macclesfield College

Did three talks today at Macclesfield College. Off for a curry with my parents now. I head back down south tomorrow.

Shaun Attwood

Guildford High School For Girls

Just started my talks for the new term at Guildford High School for Girls. Now hastily getting ready for the train up north to Widnes. I’ve got three talks at Macclesfield College tomorrow near Manchester. Then back down south on Thursday, followed by a three-hour drive on Friday up to Hereford Cathedral School. Hopefully, I’ll make it back in time on Friday for karate.
With Lisa and Oona, two brilliant readers 

Shaun Attwood

Hard Time Reviews by Prisoners No. 7: Troy on Death Row

As someone who has spent nearly three-quarters of his life incarcerated in maximum-security facilities, I don’t normally bother with reading about other people’s experiences with judicial systems and prisons. After all I could simply ask my neighbours about theirs and get days and days worth of that stuff. 

However, Shaun Attwood’s book Hard Time came to me from a dear friend with a request for my thoughts on it. Now that I’ve read it, I’m so glad I did and grateful to my friend for giving me the chance to do so. 

Mr. Attwood has captured and conveys with his words the many aspects that compose an experience within the system with such exact accuracy and frank realism that it’s almost spooky. I truly thought that no one could ever convey through writing a picture of the culture of jail/prison guards, nor the culture of prisoners, and the many ways in which we not only interact one group to another, but also amongst ourselves within the groups. 

Shaun gives his readers who’ve never been caught up in the lifestyle and system a chance to experience them without having to lose their freedom, nor damage their souls to do so.  

I wish every kid, boy and girl alike could read this book before they get to the point at which they’re making the decision to take drugs and/or embrace a criminal life. I’m sure it would convince many not to make those mistakes. 

Union Correctional Institution
7819 NW 228th Street

Shaun Attwood