Prison Time

My third book, Prison Time, is published on February 13th 2014. What do you think of the cover? Following on from Hard Time and Party Time, Prison Time covers my time spent in the Arizona Department of Corrections after I was sentenced. It features many of the prisons from Jon's Jail Journal, but goes into much greater detail. All of the stuff I couldn't post to my blog because it would have got people in trouble is in Prison Time. It is also the first book to detail the sex lives of prisoners. Click here to read chapter 1.

Advance review of Prison Time by Clayton Littlewood
Books transport you to other worlds. Good books make you feel part of that world. Outstanding books make that world hard to leave. In his third book, Attwood documents the brutality of prison life, the threat of rape, the strength it takes to survive a violent, drug addicted world– introducing us to characters that fiction would find hard to invent. Attwood’s survival is nail-biting stuff. We live it with him. We pray to God we never find ourselves in that position. We follow his progress as he immerses himself in literature, psychology and philosophy. When I read Prison Time I was reminded of a book I read as a kid, Henri Charri√®re’s Papillon. That book stayed with me for 40 years. I have no doubt Attwood’s will do the same. 

Shaun Attwood

Question Time

Students emailed:

Hi Shaun,

Me and my friends found your talk very inspiring and interesting. I think it is a great thing that you can openly talk about things that you have witnessed throughout your time in prison and your raving lifestyle before hand. Also it shows that people can change by doing better things and learning from the bad. I am in the process of reading your first book party time, and think it is very good and interesting to read! However I have a few questions that I would like to ask...

Did Xena survive after cutting a testicle off?  and if so is he/she currently still in an Arizona prison?

How long did you write for and where did you get the resources from?
 
Has there ever been a time or experience since you came out of prison that you was tempted or pressured to take drugs again?

Me and my friends have many more questions that we would like to ask but i know you are very busy and have lots of people wanting to know about your experience.

looking forward to your reply

Sarah, Rachel and Chandni

(Walsall College Childcare Students)

My response:

Xena did survive after cutting one testicle off and more recently she cut off the other. I've asked Xena to write an account of the second removal to follow on from what she wrote about the first. Xena is still in prison.

In Towers jail in 2002, I stared writing little stories about what was going on in the jail in the letters to my loved ones. It was my family's fascination with those stories and our desire to expose what was going on that led to my blog. I've been writing ever since. As well as the two books I've had published, I have two more coming out next year: Prison Time (the third book in the English Shaun Trilogy) and a self-help book about the 10 most important lessons I've learned in my life. By resources, I assume you mean pens and paper. In jail, I was allowed a tiny golf pencil and I could buy paper and envelopes from the jail commissary (inmate store). In prison, in medium security and minimum security, I was allowed to buy Bic pens.

Out at pubs and clubs, I've occasionally been offered drugs, but I'm happy in my own skin now. I don't feel the need to mess with my brain any more. Out of my friends who still do drugs in America usually one or two die every year.


Shaun Attwood

Locked Up In America

Question Time

Email from a student:

Dear Mr. Attwood,
Many thanks for a very interesting talk you gave us at Kingswood School. I didn't get the chance to ask you questions, so can I ask how did you adjust to life outside of prison? Did you want to keep up the friendships with the inmates in prison, some of who you knew had committed some really awful crimes? And also, were you ever tempted to take drugs while in prison, as you must have found it hard to give up drugs when you went into prison?  
Regards,
Evie

My response:

Adjusting to life outside of prison was strange because I had to readjust from what I'd grown accustomed to in prison, which is an abnormal way of existence. For almost six years, I was dependent on the prison to meet my basic needs: food, shelter, clothing... Outside of dodging threats, I spent most of my time reading and writing. As a free person, I had responsibilities to deal with. Luckily, I had my parents house to go to and their support. I stayed with them for my first year. My mum said in the beginning I was like a puppy dog following her around the house, awaiting orders. It took about a year for me to return to normal and to gain the confidence to move out of my parents' house and to start to rebuild my life.    

Yes, I have kept friendships with the prisoners I met inside, some of whom murdered people. I'm not justifying murder, but there is a hierarchy among the murderers in accordance with the circumstances of their crimes. For example, my friend, Two Tonys, was serving 112 years. He murdered rival gangsters, which earned him a lot of respect in prison. In the gangster world, each gangster knows that he may have to kill a rival or he could be killed at any time by a rival. By choosing to be a gangster, they accept and live with that risk. Having lived through some tough times with prisoners such as Two Tonys for years, I bonded with them for life. My prison friends such as Two Tonys also protected me from certain threats. 

Although surrounded by drugs in prison, I wasn't tempted to do them. Most of the prisoners were shooting up heroin and crystal meth and had diseases such as hepatitis C from sharing dirty needles. I saw the end result of drug use: death, despair, illness... I regretted sending people down that road by dealing drugs. It usually ends up devastating not just the users, but also their long-suffering families, whom I saw at Visitation. I started doing drugs as a shy student to socialize because I lacked the strength of mind to enjoy myself sober. The prison psychotherapist, Dr. Owen, taught me  to channel my energy into positive things, which is what I do now via writing, karate, gym classes, yoga and meditation. I'm naturally happy these days and no longer feel the need to take drugs.



Shaun Attwood

Conversations with a Dead Man Part 1 (by Weird Al)

One of my closest friends in prison, Weird Al, was deathly sick a few months ago. He’s presently in a nursing home battling hepatitis C. In recent weeks, his energy has picked up. He now has a lap top, internet access and a Facebook page. He has agreed to share some stories at Jon’s Jail Journal, starting with this one:   

My name is Allan Mac Donald and I hope this day finds both you and yours happy and healthy. If you have been a regular reader of Shaun Attwood’s blog, you may already know me as “Weird Al” or “Noodles.” I am currently in a nursing facility fighting a 30 year battle with a liver disease called hepatitis C. Right now the disease, which I got from blood transfusions in a foreign country in the mid-1970s seems to be winning. Please allow me to say a few more things before I tell you this story. This is a very real story. It happened in Mexico in the mid-1970s and still, at times, haunts me. There is no need for me to use made-up names since all the principals, with the exception of myself, are long dead. I do not want or need sympathy. I fully realize that I brought all this into my life because In my younger days I was a very greedy, manipulative and selfish person. It is a story of an out-of-control ego, mine, which ran amok.

I woke one morning handcuffed to a dead man. His name was Jaquine Reyes. I had nicknamed him Jack. He called me Alonso when he was real serious, but mostly he simply called me Gringo. Jack was a good man. A simple man, a farmer, who I had talked into growing marijuana for me and my partners in crime. I was determined to control my pot business from actually growing it all the way through the retail sales of my product. This was before the big Mexican drug cartels took over. 

I found myself locked-up in a small cell belonging to the Federal Police in Uruapan, Mexico.  Uruapan is relatively small town nestled in the Tierra Caliente Valley in the Mexican State of Michoac√°n, Mexico. I was under no illusions. The Federal Police had known about me for some time and had tried more than once to find me, but while I did maintain a home in Mexico, I was seldom there.

Before waking up handcuffed to the deceased Jack, I had been pulled over for a simple traffic violation and the whole situation escalated from there. I had absolutely no marijuana with me at the time I was pulled over, not even a seed. This did not seem to matter to the Federal Police. They saw this as an opportunity to finally nail me to the wall and were not about to let this chance slip through their hands. You see, I had been performing all my nefarious deeds in Mexico without paying bribe money to anyone. This more than anything seemed to upset my captors.

Part 2 will be posted soon.

Please support my friend Weird Al during his battle with hepatitis C. If you want to send Weird Al well wishes he welcomes your emails at  iammd53@gmail.com and you are welcome to post well wishes to his Facebook wall and add him as a friend.

Here’s Weird Al’s true and tragic story of Suicide by Cop that I originally posted to Jon’s Jail Journal in 2005:

Suicide By Cop

Weird Al is short and grey and doesn’t seem to belong in prison. Formerly a real-estate investor, he spends most of his time in prison working on lawsuits and helping prisoners with their lawsuits.

“What’s suicide by cop?” I asked Al.

“It’s a coward’s way of committing suicide. You get the police to shoot you because you don’t have the nerve to do it yourself.”

“Why did you try this?”

“My girlfriend had recently died from over-consumption of Marlboro Light One-Hundreds, and over four or five months I became increasingly depressed and crazy. I bought a book by Jack Kevorkian, and tried his suicide method: a bottle of vodka, sleeping pills and a plastic bag over your head. Obviously it didn’t work. I woke up in hospital after my neighbours called the police because I was knocking things over. The police found me with a garbage bag over my head, and after a visit to the hospital, I was sent to the nuthouse. I lost all faith in Kevorkian. I thought a bullet would be a surer way to do it.”

“What was your next suicide idea?”

“To shoot myself. But then I thought, My family is gonna have to clean my brains off the wall. I didn’t have the nerve to do it. After staying in bed for a few days, an idea came to me: Rob the bank, and the police will come and shoot you. I slept great that night. I woke up happy and watched Regis and Kathy Lee because my bank didn’t open until ten. I wrote a note, I have a gun. I am here to rob you. And I put, This is not a joke, so they’d know I was serious. I went to my local bank where I’d done business for eight years.
When I walked inside, there was a line of people. You’d think I would of gone straight to the front. If I was gonna get shot, why stand on manners? But I’m a polite person. I stood in the line, and waited, wondering which teller I’d get. I got a familiar lady clerk.

She said, 'Hello, Mr. Mac Donald, how are you today?'

I gave her the note, and her eyes went as big as saucers. I kept my left hand in my pocket pretending I had a gun. She opened the drawer real quick. I grabbed the cash, put it in my pocket and walked outside to sit on the curb next to my car. I figured that the police would screech into the parking lot at any second, and shoot me.”

“But it didn't work out?”

“No. They didn’t come right away. It took them ten minutes to get there. I was getting pissed off. I was expecting a big scene and an adrenaline rush. I wanted to go out like Bonnie and Clyde. They didn’t screech into the parking lot. They calmly got out of their cars without their guns drawn. I thought, Wait a minute, something’s not working here.

One cop said, 'Mr. Mac Donald, I’m telling you right now, we’re not going to shoot you.'

'But I have a gun,' I told him.

He said, 'You don’t have a gun.'

His partner said, 'What in the world’s going on here?'

I told them, 'I robbed the bank.'

One said, 'Yeah, we know that. But why? You have more money in the bank than you stole.'

I had fifteen thousand in the bank, and I stole seventeen hundred. It got worse from there. They arrested me and took me to Tempe Police Department. The FBI came down, took one look at me and said, 'Forget it, he’s all yours.' I thought that I had an original idea, but the police said it happens all the time, that people often try to get the police to shoot them, usually in hostage situations. I thought, Son of a bitch, I shoulda took a hostage.”

“How did you feel?”

“Mad, because I was still alive. I felt stupid because they didn’t shoot me.”

“It wasn’t something you could practice for?”

“True. There’s no courses you can take to do suicide by cop.”

“You could say it’s a one-shot deal?”

“Maybe two or three shots if you pull it off right. You wouldn’t be trying again, or going to jail either.”

“Are you going to try again?”

“Oh, no. I have it all figured out now. I’ll take a backpack, hiking gear, and a gun into the desert, wait a few days until I have no food and water, then shoot myself without bothering anybody – there’ll be no mess for the family to clean up. Kevorkian’s method was bogus. I should sue that bastard for the trouble he caused me.”

"Perhaps suicide by cop didn’t work because you’re not meant to die just yet?”

“Maybe. Anyway, I haven’t got the urge to kill myself right now, but you never know what might pop up.”

For the bank robbery and attempted suicide by cop, Weird Al was sentenced to three and a half years for assault.   


Shaun Attwood

Hike up Ben Nevis for Great Ormond Street Hospital (by Derick Attwood)

Please join us (Shaun's parents, Derick & Barbara) in our fund raising event for GOSH. If you’ve never hiked before, you’ve got months to get fit. Take the challenge! 

Our granddaughter, Yasmin, was diagnosed with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia) last July.  Thanks to the expertise and dedication of the staff at GOSH she is on the way to recovery. GOSH helps sick children from all over the world. They need to raise £50 million per year to carry out their pioneering research, to provide world-class care for a range of complex illnesses, and to keep facilities up to date. If you are unable to join us on Ben Nevis, please donate on our just giving site. Our daughter Karen set up a blog detailing how her family copes with a child having a serious illness. You can read it here. 

To hike up Ben Nevis a reasonable level of fitness is required for the ascent, but it’s not going to be a route march – unless you want it to be!  A small group of us did the hike in June 2009. It took us over 10 hours, probably 6 up and 4 down. We stopped frequently to take photos, for water breaks and lunch. On the day we did it, the temperature reached 27 degrees Celsius. Snow lay on the ground on the top and it was quite misty, which is normal for the summit.  
It is not a dangerous walk. We will be taking the tourist path up the mountain. But it is a long hard slog so, as stated above, you need to be fit. Although the weather can be warm at the beginning of the hike, it becomes cold as you reach the summit. Care needs to be taken walking on the snow. 
                  
Essentials are: strong hiking boots, a weather-proof anorak and gloves, hat and a warm jumper/fleece for when we reach the snow line at the top, sufficient food and fluids. Hiking poles are recommended, especially for the descent.  Please look at the link below which gives brief info and photos of the path itself to understand the challenge of Ben Nevis. 
The actual hike will take place on Wednesday 28th May 2014. You can travel up the day before and leave the day after or stay longer.

We are combining the hike up Ben Nevis with a 5 day holiday in Scotland, based in a hotel near Fort William overlooking Loche Linnhe, and travelling with Alfa Coach Holidays. This will allow non-hikers – who are welcome to support us – to participate in the fund raising event without actually hiking.  The trip will be for 5 days, departing from Widnes on Monday 26th May at 09.40 picking up at Runcorn,  and returning on Friday 30th May at 17.05. The cost will be £234.00 per person, £20 p.p. extra for sea view, £25 extra for double used as a single but no single room supplement. This includes travel, bed breakfast and evening meal, with two optional day excursions to the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness & Inverness on the Tuesday and Thursday.

Alternatively, you can make your own travel arrangements and book your own accommodation. There are numerous hotels, hostels and campsites in Fort William, the nearest town to Ben Nevis. 

If you are interested in joining us on this worthy adventure, please let us know as soon as possible. If you intend joining us by coach, a deposit of £10 per person is required as soon as possible so we can reserve your place, balance due 6 weeks prior to departure.

If you could let us know by email it would be appreciated, put Ben Nevis as the subject reference. We will send you a Sponsor Form as an attachment or in the post or your sponsors can donate on the Just Giving link above.
Please make the effort – get fit – and join us! 
Derick and Barbara 

Email:  derickattwood@hotmail.com  
 
We will expect each participant – whether hiking or not – to raise a minimum of £50 for the hospital.

Here are our Facebook photos of us on Ben Nevis, which give an idea of the misty summit. 

Derick Attwood
                

Question Time

Email from a student:

Your talk at Forest School was amazing. I found it so interesting to hear everything you had to say and I bought your books after as I found it so interesting. Do you ever go to rave-like events or listen to that kind of music still? I've grown up with my dad who was a hardcore raver around the same time as you, so I have always loved the 90's techno music and always wanted to go to raves and experience everything as I love the adrenaline rush. It was interesting to hear what your experiences led to. Do you regret getting into the rave scene and living that kind of lifestyle or do you see it as just enjoying the moment from when you were younger?

Thanks for the talk at our school, it was amazing.

Amy


My response:

Thanks for the email, Amy, and for sharing your situation of having an old-school raver father. Is he a fan of DJ’s Sasha and Carl Cox by any chance? They were the biggest names when raves started. The last event I went to was a Carl Cox gig in London a few years ago. I danced all night without drugs, but I was exhausted coming home on the 6am train. I actually fell asleep until a ticket inspector woke me up. It was fun, but I prefer a good night’s sleep these days. I still listen to the music all of the time in my car or on my computer. Pete Tong is one of my favourites:


I do look back and see that I was a young person living for the moment and spiralling out of control. I learnt a lot from all of my experiences and they have made me who I am today. My regrets are the hurt I caused my family members and for leading others down the road of drug use that ends in misery for so many. Numerous of my friends are dead from taking drugs and out of those still taking drugs, a few die each year.

Like you, I enjoy adrenalin rushes, but I’ve learnt to channel my energy into things that won’t do me any harm such as yoga, karate and BodyCombat.

Thanks for your questions. Take care out there, Amy!

Shaun


My full hard-hitting talk to schools:

Shaun Attwood      

Schools Visits

Beechwood Sacred Heart School, Kent

Bryanston School, Dorset

Forest School, Snaresbrook, London
Shaun Attwood