Tormead School Visit

Just spoke to over 100 sixth-formers at Tormead School in Guildford, and about to leave to do a talk at Bedales School in Petersfield.

Shaun Attwood 

Postcards from T-Bone (2)

How goes it my friends?

Thoughts become words.
Words become actions.
Actions become habits.
Habits become character.
Character becomes destiny.

Pass that on to whoever wants to listen about change.
I will be in England some day.

Each one, teach one. Strength and Honor. Steel embrace.

Students at the T-Bone Appreciation Society, I love you,


Click here to read Postcard 1 from T-Bone:

Click here to read the the fight story, T-Bone v Scooter: 

Shaun Attwood

Epping College Forest Visit

For my third year in a row, I was back at Epping Forest College today.

With Glaci

With Jason

With Mollie
Shaun Attwood

Amber Foundation Visit

Today's news story about my visit to Amber Foundation:

Shaun Attwood

Thai Lady Boys of Bangkok

I couldn't resist getting on the stage last night with the Thai Lady Boys to get this picture taken to mail to my giant transsexual friend Xena in prison in Arizona. Six of them including the one to my left on the pic look just like female models. The question of the night among my friends was: is it gay to fancy a beautiful woman who used to be a man who no longer has her man parts?

Shaun Attwood

Tiffin Boy's School, London

I did two talks today in Kingston-Upon-Thames.

With Tom and Zack

With Ben and Matt

Shaun Attwood

Schools Tour Blog and Pics

I've been up and down the country in the last week at various schools. I left my laptop at Macclesfield College, crippling my Internet access. On Friday, I drove on an almost 6-hour round trip to Kingswood School in Bath the day before Bath was flooded, and a man drowned. I leave soon for a hotel for my next talk tomorrow.

Winchmore School, London

With Amy and Pat at Macclesfield College

With Jade and Ian at Macclesfield College

With Laura and Akif at Macclesfield College

William Beaumont School, Warrington

With Tia a brilliant reader at Winchmore School

 Shaun Attwood

Question Time

Hi there Shaun,

I was at your talk at my college, and I have to say it hit a spot with me as I suffered from drug abuse years ago. When I was 17, my father died and I went off the rails, and ended up living with a girl in Manchester and all her friends who were much older than me, and was peer pressured into taking heroin, which I ended up addicted too. For a good while, I was binge drinking and shooting up and not spending money on food, and lost about 5 stone in weight. My family disowned me as I was always taking money, and I just become a shell of my former self. I hit my lowest point when I was stealing beer from shops and was with a group of my ex-girlfriends friends when they attacked a take away delivery driver with a knife, who was injured. Before I knew it, the police broke down the door and I was arrested for attempted murder, as they blamed it on me, and I took the blame for it. Eventually I gave a statement of what really happened, and was set free from the cells, but had to rebuild my life from there. I never took heroin again, but I suffered so much, and I suffered alone as I didn’t tell anyone I was a heroin addict. Now I’m 22 and I live with my partner and two kids and study media at college. My family speak to me again and forgive me, but I still suffer from withdrawal symptoms sometimes and have horrendously bad nightmares about that time. It was nice to hear your story as I could relate to it and it was nice to see I’m not the only person to make mistakes, and it showed me how lucky I am to avoid more serious consequences. I do have a question though. Do you still suffer from memories of your incarceration and drug abuse, and if so how do you cope with them? 

Thank you for the talk again! 


My response: 

Thanks for sharing your story, Tom, which moved me deeply. Sometimes things happen in life that send us off the rails, but you’re back on track now, and that’s what’s important. You’ve emerged from the other side a much stronger and wiser person, and you still have most of your life ahead of you. It’s great that you’re in college, and channelling your energy into education.  

Yes, I do suffer memories and nightmares. I shudder when I think about some of the dangerous situations I put myself in while high on drugs, but I can’t change the past. I can only make the most of the future. To cope, I use yoga as therapy. I wrote a blog about it right here: 

I do a lot of exercise and keep myself busy all of the time. I’ve learnt to channel my energy into the right things. I really enjoy speaking to young people and writing books, so I consider myself lucky that I’m doing what makes me happy. After going through Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system, I try to live each day with a smile on my face no matter what happens to me. 

Good luck in life my friend! 

Shaun Attwood 

Click here for the previous Question Time: 

Connaught School Visit in Aldershot

Just got back from Connaught School. Every so often the students go wild, and it happened tonight. I don't mean wild as in feral. I mean feel-the-love wild. I ended up staying behind for 1 1/2 hours after the talk ended answering questions, getting pics taken with students, and signing books and scraps of paper. I drove home with a big smile, and I'm still smiling now thanks to all of the feedback coming in on my Twitter feed.

With Tilly and James, brilliant readers

Shaun Attwood

Postcards from T-Bone (1)

My friends,

Be at peace because everything is going to be fine. Please don't worry. I can't explain things now, but know this I swear to God I didn't do it. Stay strong. Everything is going to be fine.
Each one, teach one. Steel embrace.

I love you,


Please click here for the previous blog about T-Bone

Shaun Attwood

Priors Field School Visit

Just got back from a talk in Godalming. The student in the pic, Meelie, came up to me with a group of girls as I was leaving, and said, "I want to thank you for such an inspirational talk today. It was great."
"What part of the talk inspired you the most?" I asked.
"Well, er, I didn't actually see the talk, but it's inspired me."
"Let me get this straight, you didn't see the talk, but its inspired you. How's that possible?"
"It inspired all of my friends so much that now I'm inspired too." And her big smile made it clear she wasn't kidding.

With Giacomo and Maddie
Shaun Attwood

Glyn Tech School Visit

Just did three talks in Epsom, Surrey, now heading to Priors Field School in Godalming to talk at their Big Think Day. 

Shaun Attwood

Walsall College Visit

With Connor and Natasha. Over 2 days, I did 6 talks at Walsall College.

These lads stayed behind for 1 1/2 hours after the talk asking questions. That really made my day!   

With my friend Sarah who stopped in to see me talk at Walsall College. Sarah has supported this blog and my writing over the years.

With Mary and Amy

Shaun Attwood

Itchen College Visit

Had a great reception today in Southampton. Pic with Matt and Cameran.

Shaun Attwood

Four More Years of Arpaio

The bad news is that Sheriff Joe Arpaio was reelected. Click here for the full story.

Shaun Attwood

Paul Penzone v Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is up for reelection on Tuesday. He will get booted from office if there's a massive turn out of voters for Paul Penzone from the Hispanic community that Arpaio has been systematically preying on to expand his jail empire and to fill the private prisons, which receive $50,000 per year per inmate and give Arpaio massive political contributions to keep the conveyor belt rolling.

If you're in Phoenix, please help defeat Arpaio on Tueday by voting for Paul Penzone:

Inside Sheriff Joe's Weird Wild Reelection Race (by Mother Jones) 

Carmen Robles has a beef with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. A 15-year-old sophomore at Tempe High School just outside of Phoenix, Robles is a straight-A student and, thanks to C.S.I., an aspiring forensics analyst who chats happily about her trip last year to see a cadaver at Grand Canyon University. She's also an undocumented immigrant, from Tempe by way of Nogales, Mexico, who came to the United States with her mom eight years ago on a tourist visa and never left. Over the last three years, as Arpaio's stepped up his crusade against undocumented immigrants, they've started to feel the squeeze: "She's giving taxes to the government and they're still trying to take her away," Robles says. 
So Robles has decided to get even. A few months ago, she joined Adiós Arpaio, a union-backed effort aimed at registering Latino voters in Maricopa. Hanging out at shopping malls and low-rider car expos, Robles and her 300 fellow volunteers—almost all Latino high school students—have registered more than 34,000 voters. Now Robles spends most school nights in navy blue nurse scrubs and Chuck Taylors, going door to door in Tempe housing developments to make sure people send in their ballots. 

Since winning office two decades ago on an anti-corruption platform, Arpaio has never been reelected by fewer than 12 points. But thanks to a handful of wrongful death lawsuits, allegations of massive civil rights violations, a quixotic birther investigation, and $100 million in misspent funds, Democrats and activists in Maricopa County believe they finally have the votes to throw out America's most controversial lawman. As Daria Ovide, Adiós Arpaio's communications director, puts it, the difference between this election and the last one is "we've had four more years of the sheriff making an ass out of himself." 

With five days to go until the election, the race is slated to go down as one of the most expensive sheriff’s races in American history, largely on the basis of Arpaio's $8 million war chest. But against any other candidate, Democratic challenger Paul Penzone's $530,000 would have been a state record. And anti-Arpaio groups have built a ground game from scratch with help from national groups like the AFL-CIO and UNITE Here ($500,000 in seed money), and found a candidate with compelling credentials who can appeal to Latinos and white suburbanites alike. 

Penzone, a 45-year-old veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, is in many ways a natural foil for Arpaio. Trim and young-looking with close cropped black hair, he draws a natural contrast with Arpaio, a 80-year-old with an expanding paunch and a comb-over that looks glued-on. The policy differences are just as stark. 

While Arpaio's office was publicly shamed for mishandling 400 sexual abuse cases—many involving women in predominantly Latino neighborhoods—and forming a Cold Case Posse to investigate President Obama's birth certificate, Penzone earned his stripes tracking down child molesters and reopening actual cold cases as part of the region's Silent Witness program. Like Arpaio, Penzone has a fondness for television cameras, regularly appearing as a law enforcement analyst on cable news programs.

"I've never had a problem with him personally, but professionally I just felt that his practices were more about sensationalism than law enforcement," Penzone says during an interview at Leisure World, a sprawling Mesa retirement community where he was campaigning. "It's gotten to the point where he misrepresents what law enforcement stands for and does a disservice to all those people that put their lives on the line to protect others." 

Penzone says that Arpaio's budget mismanagement would leave him no choice but to keep the county's infamous Tent City jail open, but he'd overhaul its operations to crack down on abuse (according to a federal lawsuit, Arpaio's guards use terms like "Mexican bitches" to refer to Latino inmates). He says he'd put less of an emphasis on immigration raids and pay more attention to violent crimes, like human trafficking. "We used less force to catch drug dealers who had weapons, money, and drugs, than the sheriff does when he goes to a restaurant or a maid service to arrest a few workers who are undocumented," Penzone says. 

A poll of the race commissioned in October by his campaign put Penzone just 5 points behind Arpaio, with the incumbent lagging below the 50 percent mark and 8 percent still undecided. But there was a wrinkle: 3 percent were supporting an independent candidate—a Scottsdale police lieutenant named Mike Stauffer. 

Stauffer's candidacy has raised alarm bells among Arpaio's biggest critics, who warn of a Nader effect—or worse, a nefarious Republican plot. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts calls Stauffer "the sheriff's best friend." The Campaign for Arizona's Future, the parent group of Adiós Arpaio, dismisses him as a "mall cop." Citizens for a Better Arizona, another union-backed group, dubbed him "Olivia Cortes on steroids"—a reference to a Republican plant whose candidacy in a 2011 state Senate recall election, it was later revealed, was designed to divide Latino voters. The Phoenix New Times calls Stauffer a "stooge." 

Last week, I made the long drive up to Cave Creek, where the Phoenix metropolitan area gives way at last to desert, to check out Stauffer's campaign operation. Using the address provided on his website, I found it, in a small shopping center off the main drag. It's a small and windowless space with not so much as a telephone line going in. That's because Stauffer's listed campaign headquarters is a UPS mailbox.

"Our office is everywhere we need to be," said West Kenyon, Stauffer's campaign manager and sole staffer. (At that particular moment, it was a Starbucks.) "We don't have an office. We decided to keep the money that we have for better things." But it's not clear that Stauffer has spent his money on anything. There are no television ads or radio spots, no direct mail, no paid staff (Kenyon works for free), and no voter lists. There's also not really that much money to speak of. All told, Stauffer has raised about $8,000, not counting the $40,000 he loaned his campaign. 

Stauffer, in an interview the next day at a Phoenix coffee shop, dismissed Democrats' criticism of his campaign, making scare quotes around words like "electability" and "money." 

"When they call me a stooge for Arpaio, I laugh at that," he said. 

Among other things, he notes that he helped blow the whistle on the case of Marty Atencio, the Latino Marine who died in Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) custody last fall—not the type of thing one would do if he were in the tank for Arpaio. He'd originally sought to challenge Arpaio in the Republican primary—and collected most of the necessary signatures to do so—but switched his party affiliation to independent because he didn't want to be seen as partisan. For good measure, he emphasizes that he declared his candidacy two years before Penzone. "I had a good shot," he said. "I had a very good shot at upsetting Arpaio." 

Emphasis on "had." 

Although Penzone's spokesman, Stacy Pearson, brushed aside the idea that Stauffer might be a secret Arpaio agent, the candidate himself has been happy to keep things ambiguous on the campaign trail. When a man at Leisure World asked him point blank if he believed Stauffer was working for Arpaio, Penzone played it coy. "A vote for the third candidate is a vote for Joe Arpaio," he said. "Did anyone put him up to it? I don't know." 

Arpaio, meanwhile, has conducted his campaign more or less the same way he's run the MCSO for 20 years—occasionally absent, punctuated by frenzied bursts of activity, and an enormous appetite for spending money. He's refused Penzone's offer to debate. His campaign website is Spartan. His campaign's listed phone number is actually the number for an insurance company (the site is out of date), which in turn directs you to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which, finally, refers you to the Summit Group, a Phoenix consulting firm run by a longtime confidant, which Arpaio's campaign has paid $1.8 million over the last year. In one of his television spots (another attacked Penzone for a 2003 domestic complaint), Arpaio fidgets, unsmiling and uncomfortable, as his wife, Ava, explains why her husband shouldn't retire. 

His nominal campaign office, like Stauffer's, is all but nonexistent, housed in a strip mall in Scottsdale, next to a cash-for-gold franchise. It shares the same address as Starworld, a travel agency to which Arpaio's campaign pays $1,200 per month to rent space. Essentially that means that Arpaio is paying himself, since he launched the agency with his wife in 1981. (In 1985, Arpaio and Starworld sold flights to space for $52,000 on a 57-feet long, 20-feet wide spaceship called Phoenix E, designed to launch on the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America; Starworld never sold any tickets, and the plan fizzled out after the Challenger disaster.) A sign on the door directed all mail to be sent to Edward Jones, the investment firm next door, where a receptionist said she had no idea there was a campaign office nearby. 

Just as I'd given up hope, I found Arpaio. He was speaking at a rally, hosted by the Arizona Republican party, on a practice field at Mesa Community College, along with a slate of local candidates. Flanked by "Fire Obama" yard signs and a hundred or so supporters in handmade T-shirts with his face on the front above the phrase "True Grit," Arpaio reflected on why his wife was so eager to keep him out of the house: "I have no hobbies!" 

He cited his years as a young DEA agent, where he was called into Mexico to heal a relationship with a local power broker. Arpaio feted his counterpart with blueberry pie and whiskey. "It's about personal relationships," he concluded. "It's not just the big stick." 

Afterwards, for $50, attendees could have their photo taken with Steven Seagal, the Under Siege star who has reinvented himself as a sheriff's deputy in Maricopa County and far West Texas. 

In March, Seagal and Arpaio were sued by a Phoenix man who alleged that the duo had killed his dog during a raid on a cockfighting ring in his house—in which Seagal drove through the front gate in a tank. 

I asked Seagal if he was aware of the recent wrongful death lawsuit that had been filed against Arpaio, by the family of a mentally ill man who had died after being tasered in custody. He responded with a question: "Have you seen the film of that?" I told him I had not. "Well, neither have I. But I'd sure like to. And once I've seen the film, then I'll have an opinion." (Happy with his answer, Seagal turned once more to greet his fans.) 

When I approached Arpaio, he'd just finished asking Matt Salmon, a former Republican congressman who's running again in the state's newly configured 5th District, to lobby for Seagal as the next Homeland Security secretary, provided he made it to Washington. ("He'd have that border cleaned up in one week," Arpaio said.) He was much less enthusiastic to talk about his own political future. 

I noted that the polls appeared to show the race tightening. "Do you know about my poll?" he asked. He was referring to two polls commissioned by the Arpaio campaign, which showed him with double digit leads, albeit still beneath the 50 percent threshold and with about a quarter of the electorate undecided. "Two big polls!" The sheriff looked to his supporters with a mix of amazement and disbelief. "Fifteen percent!" 
"I make believe I'm losing," Arpaio told me. "I always pretend I'm losing." 

Throughout our short, tense exchange, Arpaio emphasized that he had no intention of discussing the sheriff's race. "I very seldom give interviews on this race, but for you, since you're a well-known publication…" He dismissed allegations of wrongful deaths and mismanagement as "garbage" and lamented that national reporters never "talk about the good things we do." 

"I've been doing it for 20 years," he continued. "I keep getting reelected. This is my sixth time running. And I just keep getting reelected because the people—who are my bosses—know who I am. I don't ask for endorsements, although everybody who's running for president asked for my endorsement. I just do my job. That's it." 

At least one Arpaio supporter I spoke with suggested that Penzone's problem wasn't that he was unqualified; he just needed to wait his turn. After all, Arpaio turned 80 in June and would step down sooner or later. So, if he wins in November, would this be his final term? 

"What do you mean, if I win?" Arpaio asked. "I think I'll make a prediction that I plan on winning." But at last, Arpaio decided he'd found a question he liked. 

"I think there's gonna be a lot of interesting things after I'm reelected," he said. "I've always got something planned." 

And with that, America's most loved and hated sheriff turned away to sign some autographs.  
Click here for the original article: Inside Sheriff Joe's Weird Wild Reelection Race

Shaun Attwood

Greetings from the Abyss by Jack (Part 7)

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 email me at for his details.

I’m doing relatively OK. I have the usual aches and pains but nothing too extreme. The COIII [counsellor] for my building called me into his office last week and gave me paperwork for a living will and a durable healthcare power of attorney. He said that he wanted to make sure that my wishes for my healthcare were documented and not left up to some DOC bureaucrat. The living will is pretty much your standard boiler plate. I have a hard time believing that the state would keep a prisoner alive on a machine for an indefinite period of time. The cost would be astronomical, and the taxpayers would lose their collective minds to be footing that bill. My real concern is where my remains end up. I know it’s silly but I don’t want to end up buried in a DOC graveyard with my DOC number as my grave marker. It’s like the state wins in the end, and I’m stuck for an extended time, even after death, as a prisoner in the state of Arizona. What I want is to be cremated and to have my ashes dumped in the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the state won’t do cremations if the prisoner’s body isn’t claimed. I’m trying to convince several of my family members that this is what I want, but so far I’m not getting much cooperation of any kind. Right now my concern is that they will leave me for the state to dispose of. But since I’m not dying tomorrow, I’ve got a little more time to work on them.
Shaun Attwood