30 Jan 08

Greetings from the Abyss by Jack

Before leaving Tucson prison, I asked Jack, a 49-year-old lifer, if he would be willing to write for Jon’s Jail Journal on a regular basis so we can keep abreast of developments there. Jack agreed and I just received his first blog. I enjoy Jack’s writing style and I hope you do to.

13 Jan 08

Many of Jon’s faithful readers have asked how they will find out what has happened in hell now that he has been released. Cue the semiliterate stand-in reporter. I will attempt to bring you the same insight into the macabre and twisted world in which I reside, and that Jon was able to do so eloquently. I realize that these are some mighty big shoes I must fill, but I will try in my own stumbling way.

Since Jon’s release we have been moved from Santa Rita To Manzanita. The move itself was a comic opera of epic proportion. Between the overloaded pallets of property tumbling across the asphalt to the miserable cold drizzle that soaked everything we own, we managed to uproot ourselves from one location and plant ourselves in the other. Our new residence was originally designed for half the number that we moved in – 48 men living in a 45 x 60 foot box, cozy! You can’t begin to imagine my joy with the sights, sounds, and smells of my new abode and roommates. At least some of my roommates are paper trained, so I guess that’s something to be thankful for.

Here are some excerpts from a letter I received from Jack. In a letter to Jack that I wrote around New Year’s, I stated that I felt lonely in England and I’d had a few days of the blues. Jack periodically suffers severe depressions.

The issue of you having the blues is something I can relate to without any problem. In my slightly askew opinion, you miss us. Consider for the moment that over the years you have bonded with our miscreant tribe. Even with all of our foibles and defects there remain a few traits that make us endearing (for the life of me I can’t think of a single one right now, but you know what I mean). You mention the culture shock of not having been in England for 16 ½ years as a possible cause. I agree that would contribute, but consider the culture shock of going from a prison environment to the free world. Being able to come and go as you please, eat what you want when you want to, see who you please without them going through the hassle of a prison screening. All of that combined together can be overwhelming. Add to that the sense of dependence on your parents because of your temporary financial situation, is it any wonder that you felt down or blue? Your situation will get better quickly. You will adapt to the changes and become acclimatized soon. I know it may sound trite, but it will get better before you realize it. Soon you will have your own income from speaking engagements and writing. You will find a flat to your liking and you will furnish it to your taste – why is it that I see tatami mats, futons and red paisley lamp shades in your future. The thing to remember is that you’ve got everything you need to succeed right there in that shiny head of yours.

A friend of mine, that you may or may not know, died. Everyone called him Scrappy because he would fight at the slightest provocation. Like so many others he died due to a combination of DOC neglect and self-medication. I have worked with this man for seven years to manage his temper and adjust his attitude. He had made great strides forward and was actually looking to reunite with his daughter. He only had a few more months until his release. To add insult to injury, the on-duty-lieutenant had his body pulled from the cell, and left him laying on the run, in the rain, for three-and-a-half hours.

Slope asked me to tell you that he “misses your Limey ass” and he hopes that your “skip across the pond was peaceful.”

Today has been rather eventful. I started this letter around 0930 hours and it’s now 1900 hours. It wouldn’t normally take this long to write a letter but we’ve had a bit of excitement today. Earlier one of the sergeants snatched a cap off one of the guys. This led to a pushing match and eventually the use of gas. The next thing you know windows are being blocked and the cops are suited up in their ninja-turtle costumes. It has all fizzled out now but for a minute things were tense. It was a typical DOC kneejerk overreaction but that doesn’t change the fact that we were teetering on the brink. Part of the problem came from the guys shouting insults and threats, for some reason this didn’t seem to help the overall problem.

Xena finally became so fed up with everything that he pulled the plug and went back to Buckeye prison.

As you requested, I’ve been trying to find out the status of Slingblade’s release. It was more difficult to get information than than you would think. First I spoke to Slope, and he said that Slingblade had been denied again for the same reason – no release address. Slope then mentioned to Slingblade that I had been asking, which prompted the big man himself to confront me. I explained to him that you wanted to help get him out. This in turn led to a running three-day diatribe from Slingblade. He actually sat down with me at lunch yesterday and talked the whole time. Afterwards several of the guys came by and commented that it was the longest conversation anyone had ever seen Slingblade participate in. The conversation was disjointed but interesting. He talked about you, the Queen Mary II and the Queen. I believe there is a common thread running through this and it’s not that you are all queens. He talked about working on the Queen Mary and where it’s currently anchored. He said that he wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth but hasn’t gotten a response. He talked about your release and asked if you were back in England. Just as quickly as the conversation began it ended. Slingblade picked up his tray and stomped off toward the disposal chute. After I wiped the spray of detritus off my clothing, I decided I wasn’t hungry after all. It’s amazing how quickly one can change one’s mind when dining with the likes of Slingblade. The long and short of it is that he hasn’t been released, doesn’t look like he’s going to be released anytime soon, and quite frankly, I don’t think he cares one way or the other.

Slingblade is a mentally-ill Vietnam vet who needs outside help to facilitate his release. Any organisation or attorney willing to help Slingblade, please email writeinside@hotmail.com

I spoke with Shane the other day and he said you’ve been out drinking and partying since you’ve gotten home. Take it a little easy, you don’t need to make up for all of those missed years in a couple of weeks. Between the malnutrition of prison food and the sudden impact of all that alcohol your body is probably begging for mercy right about now. Oh, and let’s not forget the large quantities of heavily-spiced Indian food that I’m sure you’ve consumed since arriving home. Your body isn’t begging for mercy, it’s screaming surrender.

Well, my friend, I hope this finds you well and less depressed. Hopefully you will have waded through the backlog of blogs that needed to be edited and you have moved on to your next masterpiece. I’m sure that once the newness of your situation wears off you’ll get back into your routine, or you’ll create another routine that provides a sufficient amount of time for your creative side. Keep at it and keep me informed of your progress.

All my best.


As this is Jack’s first attempt at writing for Jon’s Jail Journal I would appreciate any comments you may have for him. I’m also hoping that through this blog Jack obtains a literary agent. Jack is never getting out of prison, and he has an amazing life story to tell.

Email comments to
writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below

Copyright © 2007-2008 Shaun P. Attwood


Anonymous said...

I think he has a very eloquent style - more please

ps hope you settling into life back in the uk now.

Anonymous said...


I commend you on your first blogspot. Very well written. You will no doubt follow in the success of Jon. I hope these words of encouragement will propel you to continue writing, and hopefully submit short stories as well. I do not beleive it is too early to do so. Keep it up and Thank you. Best wishes homeboy. Keep your head up and keep us posted. -Jose in San Diego.

Anonymous said...


This is Jose in San Diego. I have a question. Is there any chance at all that you may be allowed a temporary Visa in the future to return to the states, say perhaps for a TV interview or an appearance on a talk show? (hypothetically speaking). Please let me know. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Welcome Jack! - I loved this entry, please keep it up - much as I love to hear tales from rainy Widnes, the truth from 'hell' this site give is invaluable. Welcome Jack!

Can we send Jack books?

Anonymous said...

Jack is great!! Love his wit-similar to mine. He fits the shoes. Thanks for passing the pencil (so to speak).

Anonymous said...

He's doing GREAT!

Interesting and humorous style. Don't change a thing.

Anonymous said...

I dig Jack's style, too. Keep 'em coming and Thanks!

Sue O. (aka Joannie, SS) said...

Yes, please to the book-sending request, and I think the bloggers need to start a movement to get Shaun on Oprah. No one, not even the US Government, can keep the Oprah from getting what she wants.

Altissima said...

It's great to have some updates on life in the prison, and Jack's writing is as compelling as Jon's, but with a distinctively different "voice".
I would like to see Jack write his blog entries in the form of letters to Jon - the warm and personal style makes for very engaging reading.
Great stuff both of you!

~:*:*:Sparrow:*:*:~ said...


I'm a "lurker"... I have to emerge to say Jack is a wonderful writer... and Shaun, bless you for all you are doing to improve the quality of life of our brothers and sisters.


Kate said...

Jack sounds like he has a wise heart and he has a talent for expressing difficult and stressful situations with a simple heartfelt style. Loved it. More please!

Anonymous said...

Jon and Jack,

A big well done from here, I found his style very easy to read and also quite insightful. I hope all is going well for u Shaun and keep up the great work. If u didnt feel a little strange at first it would of been more than a little strange

Burt in Australia

Anonymous said...

I would definately like to hear more, life story or blog, thanks :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Jack it's your lil bro's wifey.

Glad you got to write for Jon's blog. A letter and card is finally on the way to you.
Hope to see lots more of your writings!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck jack on your first blog.
It is good that you are taking time out to write and hope that your writings will be fruitful.
Terry B

Anonymous said...

I like your post Jack. I need to read on to find how things are today in 2012.
Maybe you won't leave jail alive but I still don't understand why the obvious talents of yourself and Jon's other 'characters' is allowed to go to waste. I do hope that bloging from prison continues, but also that other means of tapping the resources of inmates is found; and I don't mean menial slave labour.
Good luck and take care,

Linkedup said...

Jack has passed on October 10 after suffering from cancer. He was a good penpal and will be sorely missed.