Medical Issues (Part 2 by Lifer Renee)

Renee Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence. Now 15 years in, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

A few days after submitting the Health Needs Request form (HNR), I was scheduled to see the nurse. I explained to her how I’ve been feeling – earaches, headaches, dizziness, sore throat, diarrhoea, weight loss, constant hunger…

“Does anyone in your family have thyroid problems or diabetes?” she asked.
“I don’t know.”
She stared dumbfounded.
How could I explain I never knew my parents, and haven’t been in contact with any “family” members since I was 15?
She looked at me as if she wanted me to elaborate. After a moment of awkward silence, she said, “Well, I’ll have to schedule you for the provider, so he can order the lab work, but it will take about three weeks for him to see you as he is so backed up.”

I left the nurses office still confused, a panic setting in as to whether I’ll ever get treated.

Shaun Attwood
The Sentence (by Guest Blogger Timothy Baker)

When I got out of prison in January 2002, I was hopeful that I’d be able to get my life back on track. While I was inside, I got my GED and plumbing trade certificate; I had worked for almost 10 years for free, so I figured getting a job and getting paid for it would be fun.

But as I searched for work, time after time, as soon as I mentioned my criminal record I could see in their eyes the answer before it even left their lips. They would always try and soften the blow, but it all came down to the same thing: “No!” All the places I went with my plumbing certificate all said the same thing too: “You have a burglary of a habitation conviction, my insurance wouldn’t even let me hire you if I wanted to.”

My GED wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. I had no credit history whatsoever and that’s worse than having bad credit. From January until the beginning of April I had no luck. Sure there were jobs, but they wouldn’t have paid my rent, let alone put food on the table. I was in need of something that I could live on.

Tired of the rejections, I decided I was going to rob one person to get $500, so I could buy a car to help me find work. I had called all my old friends from the church I went to, but they wouldn’t help me and my family didn’t have any money, so I did the only thing I could – or thought I could at the time. I robbed a couple and almost got caught. I didn’t even get any money, but a $10 bill the guy had in his wallet. But I got away and I promised myself from that moment on I’d never do anything like that again. I told God and every other higher power I could think of to please not let me get caught and for a while, I didn’t.

I met a girl, who let me live with her. I found a job working in a fast food restaurant and even though it wasn’t enough to survive on, I was OK because my girl had a job too. I even signed up for college and took micro computer applications because the college counsellor said it was in high demand.
From April until September I worked my butt off and went to school. Never did a thought cross my mind to break the law.

I wasn’t perfect and neither was my girl.  We both saw other people. I had another girl on the side that I was seeing. One day she saw a police artist sketch of a man suspected of robbing a couple and it looked like me. She confronted me on it and just the look on my face told her all she needed to know. She told me I had to turn myself in, and no matter what I told her, she wouldn’t back down. I threatened, I cursed, I yelled, and even pulled a knife on her, and she pretended to agree with what I said. But as soon as I left, she called the cops at her neighbours urging, who had heard us fighting the night before.

So, here I sit. I got 60 years for aggravated robbery and I will be 57 years old when I come up for my first parole. In 30 years, half of the 60 years. I doubt I’ll make parole… and the story goes but I’ll leave it there for now.

Shaun Attwood
Guildford Waterstone’s Book Signing

I had a sore throat all week, so I took a pain killer before the signing. Even so, my voice kept trailing off while talking to customers, and I couldn’t recite my usual lengthy jail anecdotes or draw on my voice inflexion. Without the help of Charlotte, I wouldn’t have sold nowhere near the 40-something copies of Hard Time. I presently have no voice left. I can only whisper.
 My yoga buddy, Mark

Click here for the previous signing blog
Shaun Attwood
Guildford Waterstone's Book Signing This Saturday

I shall be signing copies of Hard Time on Saturday August 27th, 2011 - Waterstone's, 71-73 High Street, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 3DY (01483 536 366) from 11am until 4pm.

More info

Click here for what happened at the previous Guildford signing

Shaun Attwood
Where are you reading Hard Time?

Just received this on Facebook: Sam reading Hard Time on the train to Portsmouth.

Tomorrow's book signing is at Guildford Waterstone's from 11am - 4pm Sat Aug 27th.
Click here for the previous pic in this series

Shaun Attwood
Dawn of a New Adventure (Part 11)

I finally made it back down south after almost a month up north. At my parents, I gained about seven pounds in weight thanks to three meals a day of home-cooked food, ranging from Dad’s curries to Mum’s chilli.

Outside of doing family stuff and book signing, I was on my Dad’s computer, writing non-stop, trying to finish the prequel to Hard Time before my talks to schools start. It’s almost done. Just a few minor adjustments needed. We've had movie interest, but the feedback has been that the story is incomplete without the prequel.

In the previous academic year, I almost doubled my talks to schools, and did my first overseas talk to a school in Germany. My calendar is filling up fast, and I’ve got two thousand brochures/flyers and 200 DVD’s going out to schools in September. Below is the new flyer the McLellan Practice is using to advertise my talk.

As well as the drugs and prison talk to schools under the PSHE curriculum, I'm about to launch a second talk to English departments about my journey to becoming a published author, along the lines of my first talk to a book club.  

This Saturday, I’m book signing in Guildford (further info), where we sold 73 copies last time.

Shaun Attwood
Click on flyers to see full size:
Manchester Trafford Centre Waterstone’s Book Signing

It’s no longer just Mum helping at the northern signings, we now have a sales team (pic above). Thanks to the efforts of Mum, Jess and Chris, we sold 65 copies of Hard Time.

Quite a few people came in to say they had read and enjoyed the book, including the man above.
Students who'd seen my talk at their school.

Trafford Centre Waterstone's are featuring Hard Time as their book of the month, so after the signing had ended and we had packed our display up, they asked me to sign 70 additional copies. Almost ten sales occured from people walking in the store seeing me intently signing copy after copy. 

Shaun Attwood

Jon’s Jail Journal Supports Mike Stauffer for Maricopa County Sheriff

Let's get Sheriff Joe Arpaio booted out by voting Mike in! With Arpaio up for re-election amid a firestorm of corruption allegations, we may just get rid of him this time around.

Mike's vision for Tent City: I will modernize the facility to include basic climate controls. Modern jail security tactics will also be put in place to prevent the current rate of "walk-away" escapes and protect the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, I will insure that the facility is fully staffed for public, employee, and inmate safety.

My Mum recently sent the letter below to Mike, and we are coordinating with his team: 

Dear Mr Stauffer,

My son, Shaun Attwood, spent 26 months in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail on drugs charges. He fully acknowledges that he committed a crime and deserved to be punished. So do I, his mother, but I was appalled by the inhumane conditions prevalent in Arpaio’s jails, and the lack of rehabilitation facilities.

Shaun once asked a guard how Sheriff Joe got away with such illegal jail conditions and was told that the world has no idea what goes on in here. Shaun decided he would let the world know. While still incarcerated he started to write a blog jonsjailjournal to highlight the atrocities in Arpaio’s jails. Fear of reprisals meant he had to smuggle his writing out of the jail with his legal papers. He sent it home to us, his parents, in the UK. We posted it anonomously on the Internet and it was only when the BBC and Guardian newspaper wrote  articles about it that the blog attracted international media attention and Shaun went public.

It documents prisoners in cells with temperatures of up to 138 degrees, with only swamp coolers as air conditioning, sitting in pools of sweat, resulting in skin serious infections.

‘The temperature outside is 114 degrees. The trickle of air into our cells feels like hot air blowing from a hair dryer. We are soaked in sweat all day and night. It is difficult to write on this sweat-moistened paper. The majority now have skin infections and rashes, which persistently itch. My skin is so soggy from perspiration that when I scratch it the skin detaches and I end up with clumps of it under my fingernails. Currently, it is hard to stay conscious because the swamp cooler is barely blowing. Inmates are dropping like flies. Here, filth, squalor and disease are the norm.’

The cells are infested with cockroaches. The guards come in and spray the prisoners with chemicals that merely intoxicate the cockroaches.

‘Mark and I have used six tubes of AmerFresh toothpaste and six ounces of Razorless Beard Remover cementing cracks in the walls. The cockroaches still flood our cell every night and I have awoken numerous times this week to observe my hair stood on end and cockroaches crawling on my body.’

His blog tells of food containing parts of dead rats, gang violence, drug taking and death, inflicted on inmates by Arpaio’s guards as well as other prisoners, resulting in millions being paid out in law suits by the tax payers of Phoenix, as you are already aware.

When Shaun started to write home about the conditions I could hardly believe that this was allowed to happen in America. If he had been arrested in a developing country it would have been unacceptable, but expected, not in America. Shaun spent all of his time in prison reading, writing and improving himself. He was self-motivated. Many of the inmates need a helping hand to motivate them to do something better with their lives, and to avoid criminal behaviour.

Appearing to be soft on crime is not popular, but I know that you are dedicated to making Maricopa County a better place for all its citizens, even those who may have broken the law, and I’m sure you will agree that treating inmates like animals, and keeping them in sub human conditions, will not make them better people. It is more likely to breed a hatred of authority and encourage anti-social behaviour, as the crime statistics in Phoenix prove. Tent City is a disgrace, and I agree with your plans to provide work and education for the inmates, rather than lying around where they are more likely to indulge in further criminal behaviour.

Since his release Shaun has written a book Hard Time which exposes human rights abuses by Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the Arizona jail system. The pink boxer shorts, prison stripes and return of chain gangs are well known in the media circus that is Joe Arpaio, and he is proud of his ‘tough on crime’ image, but I feel that most Americans would be shamed by the treatment of the unsentenced inmates in Arpaio’s care.

America was good to Shaun. He went to America a penniless student, having graduated from Liverpool University with a business degree. He worked hard and became a stock market millionaire, but then lost it all through involvement with the Rave scene and Ectasy. He served 6 years in total. He has been home for 3 years and has completely changed his life, and now talks to teenagers in schools and colleges about the dangers of going down that path. His book is a cautionary tale for young people. A teacher at one of the schools where he did his talk said it should be on the national curriculum.

Although I am deeply ashamed of the crimes my son committed, I am proud of the way he has rehabilitated himself. He gets constant emails from the students he talks to telling him how his talk has changed their lives. Since his release he has worked tirelessly writing Hard Time which was published in the USA by Skyhorse Publishing in May 2011 and published in the UK by Mainstream a division of Random House. I am taking the liberty of enclosing a copy of the UK edition of Hard Time as I feel the contents may be of help to you.

We are an ordinary family from the north west of England. I am a retired teacher and my husband has a small insurance business. We were devastated when Shaun was arrested, and I had a nervous breakdown, but with the support of friends and family we got through it. It is a nightmare that could happen to any family. He has rehabilitated and redeemed himself through hard work, and if he can save other young people from getting involved in drugs our suffering will have been worth it.

I am a great admirer of your work, and what you are trying to achieve in Arizona, I hope you will help to stop the wrongs that are being purpetrated by Joe Arpaio and help to end this abuse. I wish you luck with your campaign, and although Shaun cannot return to America, if there is anything Shaun or I can do to help you in the pursuance of your election, please contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Attwood
Manchester Trafford Centre Waterstone's Book Signing This Saturday

I shall be signing copies of Hard Time on Saturday August 20th, 2011 - Waterstone's, Trafford Centre, Barton Dock Road, Manchester, M17 8AA (0161 749 8623) from 11am until 4pm.

The next signing is Guildford: Saturday August 27th

More info

Shaun Attwood
Eight Months Left (by Shane)

Shane - Denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs financed by burglaries. For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, he was sentenced to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

It’s been 8 years and 9 months since my arrest for burglary. In 8 months, I’ll be paroled on my 11¼ year sentence.

Although I’m a little nervous, and have been for a while now, the reality of my nearing release date hasn’t completely set in yet. It still seems so far away.

I’ve noticed that my attention span for things I’ve kept myself busy with in this stagnant prison system has grown short, such as my writing and artwork. My thoughts often bounce all over the place.

I’ve been in the process of buying my first home in Northern Arizona, which should be complete within a month. A place to call home and make good memories.

I’m working on my final project for a college course I paid for. A business law course. I’ve got 5 out of 15 short essays completed.

I recently received disciplinary sanctions for a dirty U.A. [pee test]. No worries though. I didn’t relapse onto heroin or crystal meth. I tested positive for morphine. I was borrowing over-the-counter pills (IBU’s, aspirin, etc) from other inmates for joint pain. Well, one of them, with a dirty U.A. of his own, slipped me a morphine pill and told the guards I was doing drugs in order to get out of his disciplinary ticket.

Unable to do anything about it, I explained my situation and pled guilty. It’s unfortunate. I have appealed to the unit deputy warden to dismiss the case or at least to reduce my disciplinary sanctions.

The other inmate got me good, but I’m going home in 8 months, so I’m not risking my release by retaliating. I’ve given too many years up by not caring. I care now.

Click here for Shane’s blog Persevering Prison Pages.

Shaun Attwood
Chester Waterstone's Book Signing

When we arrived at Waterstone’s, the events manager said the recent record by a non-celeb author was 26 copies sold. After guaranteeing to smash that, we only sold five in the first hour. Footfall was highish – an eclectic mix of tourists not exactly out on the hunt for a true-crime book. To smash the record, something had to be done. 

We used the same strategy as last week in Southport. Mum positioned herself outside of the store with someone dressed in the jail outfit – her friend, Chris – pitching passers-by Hard Time. Thanks to the tremendous help of Mum, Chris, the Waterstone's staff and even the town crier of Chester, David Mitchell, who was out pitching the book, we sold 40 copies.    

 Events manager, Jed

 With book seller, Jenn

Upcoming Waterstone's signings this month:

Manchester, Trafford Centre:  Saturday August 20th

Guildford: Saturday August 27th

More info on this month’s signings

Shaun Attwood
Chester Waterstone's Book Signing This Saturday

I shall be signing copies of Hard Time on Saturday August 13th, 2011 - Waterstone's, 14 Eastgate Row, Chester, CH1 1LF (01244 345 066) from 11am until 4pm.

I'm offering a free signed copy of Hard Time to anyone who wants to assist at any of the signings by dressing up in a black and white jail outfit and handing out flyers.  

Upcoming signings this month:

Manchester, Trafford Centre:  Saturday August 20th

Guildford: Saturday August 27th

More info

Shaun Attwood
Question Time with Claudia

Claudia – one of the main characters in Hard Time – was my girlfriend when the SWAT team smashed our door down.

Zara asked: Are you and Claudia still in touch? Did she overcome her drinking problem and her depression?

Shaun: I never got back with Claudia, but we are still friends, and she is helping me with the next book, the prequel to Hard Time. She has a boyfriend, and seems happy now.

Claudia emailed:

To answer the reader's question, I barely drink anymore :) Only to have fun, not to escape! And it's rare these days that I do. Maybe a glass or two of wine or a few pints of beer at happy hour once a month. I got over that, though it took time. It just kind of disappeared!

And I do suffer from anxiety and depression that comes and goes ever since the arrest. I will be fine for a year or two and then it will hit me. It seems to come around summer time (May-ish and it will last for a few months). Sometimes I get medicine and stay on it for awhile and I will stop when I feel better, sometimes I suffer through it with no medicine. But about every year or two it strikes. It is hard and seems to get worse, but hopefully it will go away over time. I am in the midst of it now and have been for a couple of months. It does seem to be lifting.

Shaun: Claudia, You mention getting a depression every year, whereas around that time, May 16th, I get a yearning to be with you, and I look at your pics - which makes it worse - and read what you are doing on Facebook - and see how happy you seem, and I know after everything I've put you through I don't deserve to disrupt your life, but I still think about you a lot and about what could have been.

Please post any further questions for Claudia in the comments section below

Click here for the last blog I wrote about Claudia while in prison. 

Shaun Attwood

How Drugs Are Smuggled Into Prison (Including The Anal Method)

Tags: keyster keister drugs arpaio jail prison time life inmate prisoner con how to survive phoenix Arizona gangs drug sentence conditions medical human rights "shaun attwood" police cops crime security criminal officer arrested justice personal heroin crystal meth anal smuggling
Southport Waterstone's Book Signing

We sold almost 40 copies at Southport yesterday. The previous author had sold 4, so the manager was happy. The helpful and friendly staff made it a pleasure to be there. 

Upcoming Waterstone's signings this month:

Chester: Saturday August 13th

Manchester, Trafford Centre:  Saturday August 20th

Guildford: Saturday August 27th

More info on this months signings
I'm offering a free signed copy of Hard Time to anyone who wants to assist at any of the signings by dressing up in a black and white jail outfit and handing out flyers. 
Shaun Attwood
Southport Waterstone's Book Signing This Saturday

I shall be signing copies of Hard Time on Saturday August 6th, 2011 - Waterstone's, 367 Lord Street, Southport, Merseyside PR8 1NH (0843 290 8599) from 11am until 4pm. Map

I'm offering a free signed copy of Hard Time to anyone who wants to assist at any of the signings by dressing up in a black and white jail outfit and handing out flyers.  

Upcoming signings this month:

Chester: Saturday August 13th

Manchester, Trafford Centre:  Saturday August 20th

Guildford: Saturday August 27th

More info

Shaun Attwood
How Prisoners Are Strip Searched (Including Anal and Foreskin Searches)

This video is my response to this request:

Hi, you mention the intake area in one of your videos. Do they strip search you here? Is it private one on one or a group search? How invasive is it? Is it like in the UK where it is all by verbal instruction? What is the procedure? What happens? What do they make you do? How "thorough" is it?
Do they strip search you at other times? Shakedowns? Post visit etc? Do they strip search you on release too? I have always wondered that? Would be fascinated to know all the details of this for my studies. A video covering this topic would be even better - tell us, so any guys facing this jail will know what to expect.



Tags: arpaio jail prison time life inmate prisoner con how to survive phoenix Arizona gangs riot london hackney drugs sentence conditions medical human rights "shaun attwood" police cops crime court attorney security criminal you officer arrested justice personal brutality "foreskin search" foreskin "finger wave" "anus search" "anal cavity" anus "strip search" "anal search" keyster contraband smuggle "maricopa county" "county jail"
Question Time with Chris

Chris is a young person sentenced to a UK prison for death by careless driving. Chris crashed while under the influence of drugs. His passenger/best friend died.

Jose in San Diego asked:

Are there U.S. influences i.e. black, white, Crips, Bloods, etc. in the UK prison system? How is the gang structure/segregation in there? Violence?

Chris responded:

Firstly, all of the foreign nationals in UK jails tend to stick together in their own groups. The fresh meat coming in merges into their own races for survival, so as not to be outcasts.

Secondly, Bloods and Crips are world famous for violence, and recognised and respected by UK gang members. A quarter of London gangs have now formed alliances with Bloods and Crips.

In YOI (Young Offenders Institute) [equivalent to a JDC (Juvenile Detention Center) in America] American rap stars are influential, such as Notorious B.I.G. and 2pac [Tupak Shakur]. The rappers lead us towards Bloods and Crips. Those in the UK YOI who want to be taken seriously and are dedicated to their gang portray similar images that you see in the US. For example, gang members here have a limp in their walk to act like they’ve been shot or are carrying a gun. 

Hell’s Angels is another US based gang popular in Britain due to their dedication to their own rules.

In the US, poverty figures are much steeper than in the UK, so people in the US are more inclined to join gangs. Initiations are more popular in the US because they’re more dedicated to gang culture than we are.

Gun law is stricter here, so it’s easier for young people in America to get guns. In the UK, they tend to use knives, so contact with the victim is a risk.

It seems that the way young people are raised in the UK influences their motives for joining gangs.

Shaun Attwood