Question Time

Dear Mr Attwood, 

I'm the student who walked out of your speech today and would just like to apologise. I knew I was about to faint so I knew I had to stop myself from either doing that or throwing up or worse.

Your talk was incredible and opened up my eyes (especially as I have recently become hooked on the TV show 'Prison Break'). What you had to say hit particularly close to home as I had an uncle die from drug use so it is an emotive subject for me as well.

I just wanted to ask a few questions as I didn't get a chance to after your talk:

1. Do you think the people who are in those types of prisons deserve that type of treatment?

2. Prison life must have been so different to your previous high-flying millionaire lifestyle, how did you cope?

3. Did you do anything bad in prison? In order to protect yourself from being beaten up by other prisoners for example?

4. Do you think it is the physically or mentally weak who are at most risk in places like that? And how quickly do they adapt? 

Thank you very much for your time, I truly enjoyed your talk until my departure and I can say that you achieved your aim of inspiring a young person not to do drugs and mess with the law! 

Thank you once again, 


My response: 


Sorry to read about your uncle. I can’t imagine what you and your family went through. I’m glad you liked the talk. It's receiving messages like yours that makes everything I went through seem worthwhile. I hope my story stays with you and continues to influence you in positive ways. Now, onto your questions: 

1 Prison shouldn’t be easy. It is a punishment. But it should be humane because when a society treats its prisoners like animals some of them will behave like animals when they return to society. The key to getting crime down is education and rehabilitation, but US prisons offer none of that because they profit by prisoners coming right back. They get around $50,000 per year per prisoner. Scandinavia has the lowest reoffending rates in the world, and the most education and rehabilitation in their prisons. 

2 I coped through strong family support. By reading, writing, blogging and trying to turn the situation into the educational opportunity of a lifetime. By exercise, including yoga and meditation. By associating with prisoners who were doing positive things or fun things like playing chess. 

3 I stayed away as best I could from doing anything bad in prison. I had to stand up for myself, but I never started any trouble.  

4 Yes the physically and mentally weak are most at risk in prison. If they don’t adapt fast, they suffer abuse from prisoners and guards. I saw it happening constantly in there. 

I hope you do well in life, Tom. 


Shaun Attwood

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