07 March 06

Bars to Education

For over a year, I’ve been trying to do a prison-approved correspondence course through Rio Salado College.

Problems started at Buckeye when my scholarship applications were rejected over and over again. The reasons included not having a GED (General Education Diploma or High School diploma, similar to UK GCSE), being educated overseas, and having no college courses completed while in prison. I tried to meet each obstacle but got nowhere. I produced my British certificates, including my BA Honours degree, and was told it meant nothing unless I paid an international transcript translator to state its US equivalency. For having no prior college courses completed in prison, I was told to do a woodwork class. As having a bachelor’s degree didn’t meet the GED requirement, I sat the ASSET test and achieved the highest score – causing glimmers of hope – but then I was moved to Tucson, which is in Pima County and scholarships were only available in Maricopa County.

After witnessing my struggle for a scholarship, my parents put money on my books to pay for Psychology 101 – a three credit course costing $336. The forms were filled out and sent for approval and the money was deducted, but the forms got lost. I’m now back to square one, but down $336, so things have regressed.

Undaunted, I obtained the Psychology 101 course material from a prisoner friend, and I’m doing in on my own volition.

Further education helps prisoners get jobs and reintegrate with society. DOC claims to be making progress with GEDs - they should also remove the needless obstacles to higher learning.

With the money deducted from my books, I’m seeking approval to apply it to a course titled Modern Fiction. Wish me luck.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
06 March 06

Xena’s Sex Toys

Silent and hungry we were, awaiting our chow, when Xena suddenly announced, “I made a vibrator once – called the Bumblebee.”
“How’d you make it?" I asked.
“I put the motor from a Walkman into the round plastic bottom of a stick deodorant, and turned it on by taping a wire to it from two double-A batteries.”
“So you made your own pocket rocket,” I said.
“How big was it?” Repo asked.
“Six inches,” Xena said, “But it wasn’t that big around. I didn’t like it that much: it didn’t hit the anal G-spot. After usin’ it a few times, I destroyed it. It was nowhere near as good as the dildo I made.”
“Lets hear how you made the dildo,” Repo said.
“I rolled the cardboard back of a notepad into a mould, and melted strips of plastic bag onto it until I had a nice smooth piece of ten inch plastic -”
Ten inches! I thought.
“- and then I removed the cardboard. To make it more realistic, I wrapped copper wire from co-ax cable around the plastic, and melted more plastic around that. When it was set, I pulled the copper out, giving it hard veins. To give it a penis head, I melted plastic around a deodorant lid until it was bulbous shaped. After takin’ it off its mould, I melted it onto the dildo, so the shaft had a penis-shaped head attached to it.”
Ouch, I thought.
Repo seemed to be deep in thought: “Could you see in your ass when you used it?”
“Yeah,” said Xena. “I was by myself in a cell, so, I’d turn off the TV and lights, and watch myself gettin' freaky in the reflection of the TV screen.”
“You’ve got serious issues, bitch,” Repo said. “Did you write your own manual about its length and girth?”
“I didn’t get round to that,” Xena said.
It seemed like as good a time as any to ask Xena a question inspired by Ann Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy: “Xena did you ever make yourself a butt plug with a pony tail?”
“A butt plug – no. I can’t put somethin’ in my ass and walk around. Stuff like that makes me feel like I’ve constantly gotta take a dump. Do you ever feel like that, Repo?
Onlookers laughed.
“No,” Repo said.
“If you’d like, Repo, I’ll write down step-by-step instructions for fuckin’ yourself in the ass?”
“Nope,” Repo said. “My ass is strictly a one-way street.”
“I find that hard to believe. Surely you’ve keystered somethin’ or had a thermometer shoved in it when you were a kid?” Xena said with conviction.
“To the best of my knowledge, no! Repo said.
“No dildos?
“No, definitely not. But I’ll lend you my toothbrush holder if you wanna make yourself another big one.”
“What happened to your dildo?” I asked.
“After a month of pure pleasure, there were some random cell searches, and the cops found it.”
“Did you get a ticket for having a sex toy?” I asked.
“No, but the guards freaked out. They had no idea how to write it up as a ticket. There’s no mention of dildos in DOC policy. A sergeant put my name on it, and displayed it in his office window. That fuelled me and made me more exhilarated. I was really freaky back then. It was in his window at SMU1 for over a year."
What other kinky items have you made? I asked.
“Handcuffs, whips, leather G-strings, and a beaded G-string, and makeup,” Xena said.
“Which was the kinkiest?”
“The beaded G-string.”
“You’ll have to tell me about it someday.”

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
03 March 06

Question Time

Karen in Essex asked whether Slingblade was in Vietnam on business or pleasure.

Slingblade was in Vietnam as a footsoldier – expendable, cannon fodder. He did well surviving there for almost two years. I suspect he has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

He came to my cell today begging for peanut butter, wearing no top or socks. His fist twitching, his face giggling, he presented a bizarre and tragic figure.

Pippa in the Netherlands asked how many people I write to regularly, if I keep my letters, and how many I have accumulated.

I write regularly to dozens of people, and irregularly to hundreds. I keep all letters. They are shipped to England and remain uncounted.

Lisa in Phoenix asked about my goals for 2006.

To read 200 books (I read 52 in the first quarter). To develop my writing skills. To advance my yoga ability. To do some college correspondence classes. To gain a better understanding of myself. To remain an anal virgin.

Gail asked for my favourite yoga positions.

My favourite is Scorpion Pose, which I hold for a minute. Now that I can do the Lotus Pose in Headstand, I can almost do Upright Cock. Ganda Bherundasana seems impossible, so I am working on some easier variations to get there. Developing these extreme poses is what I enjoy most when doing asanas.

Zelda asked if Xena’s coffee enemas were with or without cream.

Xena answered, “I have no access to cream, but I’d like to give it a try.”

Clancy asked about my favourite comedies.

Growing up, I enjoyed The Young Ones, Spitting Image and anything Monty Pythonesque. My need for humour is now satisfied via books, especially those by Tom Wolfe and Cervantes, and I've been enjoying the short stories of Charles D’Ambrosio, T. Coraghessan Boyle and Thom Jones.

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Copyright © 2004-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
Life as an Orangeman

Memories of Arpaio's gulag imbedded for life
By LINDA BENTLEY Sonoran News reporter

TUCSON Az: In Dec 2004 when Derick and Barbara Attwood flew in from England over the Christmas and New Year holidays to visit their son at the Lewis Prison Complex near Buckeye, they left with a cloud of depression difficult to shake. Their son, Shaun Attwood, who has since been transferred to the Arizona Department of Corrections medium security Santa Rita Unit in Tucson, is serving nine and a half years for money laundering, the use of electronic equipment, and attempting to possess dangerous drugs, stemming from his involvement in the Phoenix Rave scene. Although he admits making some errors in judgment, Attwood is hardly the Mafioso. A stockbroker by trade and well read in ancient history, economics, Greek classics and political philosophy, the 37-year-old Attwood is also a yoga-practicing vegetarian who admires the works of philosophers Aurelius, Nietzsche and Plato. He speaks Spanish and is learning Mandarin Chinese.

After spending 26 months as a pre-trial detainee in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s gulags, Attwood said conditions in the jail could make a person plead guilty to just about anything to get away. He was transferred to the state prison system in July 2004. So, again in Dec 05, Attwood’s parents travelled to Tucson to see their son, who looked extremely healthy, cheerful and living in remarkably clean surroundings, much unlike Arpaio’s roach and rodent infested jails. The Attwoods invited Mothers Against Arpaio (MAA) co-founder Pearl Wilson and this reporter to share their last precious day of visitation on Dec. 31 2005 with them and their son.
MAA connected with the Attwood family while Attwood was still at Madison Street Jail. His family began retyping his handwritten and humorous letters telling of the deplorable conditions in Arpaio’s jails and posted them on the Internet. Using a golf pencil and paper that often became soggy with sweat, Attwood dutifully documented life in Arpaio’s jails, which was posted on the Internet as Jon’s Jail Journal, fearing retribution from Arpaio if they used his real name. With a wry sense of humor and a flare for writing, Attwood’s journal entries evolved from trying to laugh off the atrocities in Arpaio’s hoosegows to documenting his new life as an Orangeman, so dubbed for the color of their state-issued prison duds. Attwood considered himself lucky to have left Arpaio’s jail after having only suffered bleeding bedsores, fungal skin infections and pink eye.

His Feb 4, 2004, journal entry painted the visual du jour:We have had no running water for three days now. The toilets in our cells are full of faeces and urine. On the second day of the water outage, I knew that we were in trouble, as the mound in our steel throne peaked above sea level. Inmates often display remarkable ingenuity during difficult occasions, and the current crisis resulted in a number of my brethren defecating in the small plastic bags that the mouldy breakfast bread is served in. The whole tower reeks like a giant porta-loo.

Three weeks later, Attwood wrote about being called to the medical unit for a general wellness check-up as the weekly outing. One of his neighbors was diagnosed as having scabies, and it was determined their chow servers had infectious tuberculosis the entire duration of his stay. Another inmate complained about having gone two days without his seizure medication.

Looking on the bright side, Attwood wrote, At least our water is flowing again. Inmates are still trading stories about defecating in plastic bags and urinating in old pop bottles. On March 25, 2004, after being transferred to new quarters, Attwood wrote, I am allowed out of my cell for one hour each day to make a phone call and to take a shower. During my first hour out in the new pod, I was serenaded by the inmates, who performed a husky version of ‘A Yellow Submarine’. I was touched by their vocal efforts and their demonstration of high spirits, in a part of the jail that qualifies as an area of high-grade suffering. My new cohabitants are enduring the twin evils of a broken down swamp cooler and a cockroach infestation.

They are proving to be the crème de la crème of ‘good sufferers’. A neighboring asthmatic inmate happily described how he inhaled a cockroach right into his lung that had crept into his nebulizer. He was subsequently awarded sufferer of the week’ without any real competition. Using toothpaste to plug up cracks and holes in his cell, Attwood said it kept the cockroaches out while it also made his cell smell ‘minty fresh’. On May 6, 2004, Attwood wrote about some of the various ways inmates addressed their sexual frustration, citing that the most common method of relief takes place in the shower. Unfortunately, he wrote, the rain room that I share with 29 other men does not drain very well. This has resulted in a puddle of semen and pubic hair, which swirls around my ankles as I wash myself. While showering, I wear pink socks to prevent the mixture from sticking to my feet. I scrupulously rinse them off when I’ve finished.

Since leaving Arpaio’s jail, the tone of Attwood’s journal entries have become noticeably more upbeat and comical, focusing on his interactions with his fellow Orangemen and staff, with nicknames such as, Long Island, Two Tonys, Repo, Xena and Odd Job.

Attwood quipped in his Oct. 13, 2005, journal entry; sadly, being an illegal alien stockbroker from England seems to have precluded my admission to any of the 25,000 active gangs identified by the Justice Department. Despite my protests about unequal prison gang opportunities and demands for affirmative action for incarcerated Brits in America in relation to prison gang work (known as ‘doing dirt) I remain ostracized and unranked in the political hierarchy. I’m thinking about filing a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court demanding court ordered gang membership.

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02 Mar 06

Bunk Bunkum

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
28 Feb 06

My Chess Cheerleader’s Dirty Tricks

I play chess with Frankie daily. On days when I win, I feel happy for a while. But tonight, I wasn’t doing so well. Although the score was 3-3, I’d been reduced to a king in the seventh game. Frankie’s king, rook and pawn were moving in for the kill.

“Englandman,” Frankie said, displaying a smile that suggested he was confident of an imminent victory, “now your parents are no longer in town, I’m gonna stop being nice to you. I’m gonna show you who you’re fuckin’ with. I thought I told you already: I write chess books. Pop–pop–pop.” Frankie began shadowboxing above the chessboard.
His taunts increased my anxiety. All I could see were hopeless moves.
“Englandman, just give it up. Don’t make me do this to you.”
I was about to surrender, when a giant, wearing what appeared to be a jockstrap over his head, ran into the room, bumped his hip into Frankie, and started bouncing up and down, singing, “Boinnng-boinnng-boinnng…”
“Hi Xena!” I said.
“Everybody’s laughing at me and I don’t know why,” Xena said.
“What’s that on your head?” Frankie said.
“My new headdress.”
“It looks like a jockstrap,” Frankie said. “Englandman, is this some kinda set-up? You put Xena up to this to distract me didn’t you?”
“I’ve got somethin’ to ask you, Frankie,” Xena said. “ I heard you stripped down to a jockstrap in your house?”
“No I didn’t,” Frankie said.
“I heard you wuz walkin’ round your cell, showin’ your ass, and sayin’, ‘Hey homies, how’d I look?'”
“That never happened,” Frankie said, baring his teeth like an animal ready to bite.
“Did you ever wear a jockstrap or anything sexy like this for Yum-Yum?” Xena asked.
“No!” The look on Frankie's face suggested he was having difficulty concentrating.
I moved my king to an area that increased the probability of the game being a stalemate, and I hoped that Xena would continue distracting Frankie - after all Frankie made it a habit of coming on to me during chess.
Frankie made a bad move, and said,“Shush, Xena, you’re gettin’ me hard.”
“How am I gettin’ you hard?” Xena said. “Ohhhh! I almost forgot. That’s right. You’re Frankie. Is it Frankie and Yum-Yum or Frankie and Johnny?”
Frankie glowered at me, and said, “You’re doin’ me dirty, Englandman - havin’ Xena come over to distract me like this.”
“I didn’t know that Xena was coming. Her talking is distracting me as well.”
Xena continued to harass Frankie about Yum-Yum. Noticably distracted, he placed his king closer to mine, leaving me nowhere to move.
“Stalemate!” I yelled.
“Oh, you guys stalemated. I guess you aren’t so hard as you say you are Frankie – at least, not that hard to beat. Did you let Yum-Yum stalemate you like that, so you could get some from her that night?”
“Shut up, Xena! That wasn’t fair,” Frankie said, and left looking miffed.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
26 Feb 06

Breast Reduction

In Bon Voyage Balls, Xena described how a transsexual inmate cut off his testes with a razor blade. Since writing that blog, guards and inmates have told me about more cases of it. As far as I know, there has only been one case of an inmate reducing his breasts. Xena arranged for me to interview the inmate.

“Why did you want to cut off your breasts?” I asked Tommy Smock.
“I’m gonna tell you my whole story. When I was a kid, I worked out and did martial arts. I started takin’ steroids when I was a teenager, and my body ripped up, but I quit everythin’ when I was twenty-one, and I was left with large womanly breasts," Tommy said, cupping his hands over his chest. "When I came to prison I kept them covered up, or I taped them up, so people wouldn’t notice. I managed to hide them for years, but one mornin’ my celly caught me tapin’ 'em up. He told the whole pod, and people called me names for two years."
"That's real tough," I said.
"Then I got a new celly, and had him commit to help me out when the time came for me to do somethin’, but I didn’t tell him what it was I wanted him to do. When the time did come, I showed them to him and he said, ‘Oh my God! We could milk them bad boys, baby doll.’
I told him, ‘Look at 'em. Admire 'em. Picture 'em. They’re comin’ off. Here’s the razor blades, start cuttin’.’
He started cuttin’ my left breast, and so much blood came out I threw up, and almost passed out. He said, ‘I can’t do this.You’re gonna die.’ And he left me with a big chink of flesh hangin’ out.
I was upset, angry, and very sore. But I taped it up, hopin’ it would heal. On the yard I was at, I was patted down every day, which aggravated the wound and made it bleed. A week later, I noticed it was turnin’ green, and I knew I had to finish the job.
When my celly went to a visit, I got out four razor blades and started hackin’ away. First blood came out, then somethin’ that looked like butter. Then I cut deeper, through veins and nerves – the nerves hurt the most. Blood was squirtin’ everywhere – up and sideways and on my face. Soon I cut out a chunk as big as my hand off, and I threw in the toilet.”
“Did you use painkillers?” I asked.
“No painkillers.
After cuttin’ one off, I said to myself, I can’t leave the other one on, so, I went to cuttin’ again. The same thing happened: blood and butter came out. After throwing that in the toilet, I looked at my chest, at all the veins I’d cut, and decided not to sew myself up as I couldn’t put the veins back together.
I asked my neighbour to call ‘Man down’ to the guards, but he thought I was kiddin’ and refused, so I pushed the guard-call button. A CO came and asked if I was all right. I said, ‘Just open the fuckin’ door.’ He saw my chest, and next thing the whole pod was full of guards – some with cameras – so I was embarrassed on top of the agony. I refused to cuff up because of the pain. I put a smock on, and was taken to medical, and told there was nothin’ they could do, so I was rushed to hospital.
At the hospital they didn’t fix my veins, they just stapled my chest up. The doctor asked why I’d done it and I told him, ‘I’m not gay, so I didn’t like 'em.' He said ‘I’ve seen people do many drastic things, but you take the cake on this one.’
After that I was put on suicide watch for one week, then returned to the yard.
Everybody knew what I’d done, and COs came from other yards just to see me, and they said I was famous.”
“Did people stop callin’ you names?”
“At the chow hall, some dude was callin’ me stupid names like "nipples", so I went up to him and said, ‘Check this out: I went through a lotta bullshit 'cause of people like you. Don’t call me any stupid names no more or I’ll get your ass.’ Nobody ever called me nothin’ ever again.”
“Are you glad you did it?”
“Yeah. I feel free: I was in a prison within a prison.”
“Do you mind if I see the scars?”
“Here you go.”
I was shown two of the thickest scars I have ever seen, each over three-inches long, horizontal with his nipples.

Tommy Smock, a pleasant and friendly young Chicano, seems content with the results of his breast reduction. He said he is looking forward to reading your comments about what he did.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
24 Feb 06


At rec, Pops looked lonely sitting outside of Building D.
“How’re you doing?” I asked.
“I’m soakin’ up a little vitamin D,” Pops said, pointing a gnarled finger at the sun.
“How’s Slingblade?”
“He’s gettin’ nuttier all the time. He’s takin’ a crap at least four times a day. I gotta cover my head 'cause it stinks so bad. Sometimes he’s on the can, and I gotta take a leak, so I have to do it in an old soup can.”
“Has he blocked the toilet up recently?”
“No. I told him ‘By God, if you plug this one up you can find somewhere else to live’.”
“So he’s wiping with TP?”
“Toilet paper, newspaper, and TV Guide. He don’t know you can’t keep your rear clean with that slick paper. I reckon his mother probably spoiled him.”
We were joined by Weird Al and Slope.
“His mother probably had a subscription to TV Guide,” Weird Al said.
We laughed.
Pops began to ramble on about alfalfa, so I left to play chess with Frankie.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
22 Feb 06

Am I Crazy?

A quote from Herman Melville’s Billy Budd:

Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins?… So with sanity and insanity. In pronounced cases there is no question about them. But, in less obvious cases, few people are willing to draw the exact line of demarcation… though for a fee some professional experts will.

Dr Langley, an ASU professor, determined I had bipolar disorder in 2004. I refused to believe his diagnosis, I was embarrassed about it and I’ve only recently come to terms with it. Over time, my own self-consciousness has lessened.

I recently requested to see my mental-health records at the prison.
Dr B. wrote I had "Bipolar one [and] social phobia issues." On 19-01-05, he wrote I was, "In [the] lengthy middle ground between poles of bipolar." He added that I was, "Highly intelligent but emotionally immature." On 15-02-05, I was "Mildly hypomanic."
Dr A. wrote about our pyschotherapy sessions, which I have already posted. He diagnosed bipolar and anxiety disorders.

Some of the authors I am inspired by were bipolar. Charles Dickens used his manic energy to write relentlessly. Mark Twain wrote masterpieces of American literature, and developed a popular following as a lecturer. Virginia Woolf (whose The Death of the Moth I adore) was a prodigious writer until she drowned herself in the midst of a depression. Ernest Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the Nobel Prize for Literature, but he took his own life with a shotgun.

Now that more is understood about bipolar disorder, I feel that I can manage it using mental yoga, and perhaps achieve a modicum of success before my mind snaps completely.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood
20 Feb 06

The Death Penalty

Reading an article in Investors Business Daily ("Well Executed") caused me to write this blog. One sentence in particular didn't make much sense: "Death penalty opponents still cannot point to the actual execution of an innocent person."

It’s odd that the author chose to ignore more than one-hundred death-row inmates who have been exonerated by DNA evidence. To me, the issue of whether the death penalty is appropriate for certain criminals is irrelevant. The real issue is whether the death penalty can be maintained in an era when the careers of prosecutors and detectives hinge on securing convictions regardless of innocence or guilt.

An example of what is becoming more prevalent is the case of Ray Krone, the wrongfully convicted "snaggle-toothed killer" whose life was saved with the assistance of my attorney, Alan Simpson. In this case the State of Arizona paid an expert witness tens of thousands of dollars to state that Ray’s teeth matched a bite mark found on the body of the victim. Exonerating evidence was concealed, and even after the expert witness confessed to his peers that he felt committed to lie because he had taken the money, the prosecutor in Ray Krone’s case pushed for and almost had him executed.

Ray was saved from execution when his legal team linked DNA evidence to the real killer who was confronted and confessed to the crime. The people who hid evidence and tried to murder
Ray suffered no repercussions. They did not even apologise.

Advances in the use of DNA have exposed multiple cases of such corruption. Prosecutors and detectives, and expert witnesses rarely suffer consequences for fabricating cases. A legal system that offers $50,000 to a person to utter a few words at a trial, which may lead to wrongful imprisonment, or even execution, without a penalty for telling lies, invites people to play dirty. It is obscene that a State can fork out such amounts, yet keep death-row inmates waiting years for inexpensive DNA tests.

Perhaps the author of the Investors Business Daily article would like to consider how many wrongfully convicted people were executed before DNA evidence could help them.

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Copyright © 2005-2006 Shaun P. Attwood