Banged-Up Abroad Skinhead Scene 2

From my jail memoir, Hard Time, that Raving Arizona is based on:

The commotion was in the shower area, about fifteen feet behind me. Skinheads were attacking a naked figure on the floor. Inmates stopped what they were doing, gravitated toward the shower area, and formed a sinister audience. I’m on the phone the day room, speaking to my girlfriend, Claudia.

“What is it?” Claudia asked.
“Looks like…er…some kind of disturbance,” I said into the telephone.
“What? What’s wrong? You alright?” she said, her voice starting to crack.
“Sure…er…I’m fine. It doesn’t involve me,” I said, distracted by the violence and proximity of the growing crowd.
The naked man raised his head and I saw it was another new prisoner called David. There was a plea for help in his eyes as they briefly met mine – a look that froze me against the wall. 
“Er…I might need to get off the phone here soon.”
“Die you sick chomo!” Rob, the biggest of the skinheads yelled, dropping his heel on David’s temple. Chomo is American prison slang for child molestor.
“What’s going on? Are you OK?” Claudia asked, her voice hitting some high notes.
The skinheads vied for stomping room. David arched his back in agony.
“Yes. I’m fine,” I said, struggling not to relay my fear. “It just gets crazy in these places, that’s all.”
The blows silenced David. Blood streamed from his nose.
“I have to go now. I love you,” I said, not wanting to worry her any further.
“Love you too. Every time I go to my mom’s house, I take your sweaty T-shirt and Floppy.” Floppy was a Build-A-Bear creation that played my voice saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you, Bungle Bee.”
One of the skinheads jumped up and down on David. I thought I heard his ribs snap.
“Bye, love.” I hung up.

The spectators had adopted the safety-in-numbers survival strategy of the wildebeest. None of them dared venture from the herd. Mesmerised by the violence, they watched from a safe distance. Gripped by the same instinct, I joined the back of the herd.
As if they’d exhausted their supply of aggression on David, the skinheads stopped the beating and marched away in unison. David was a whimpering heaving mound of flesh, blood pooling around his head. 
What kind of world am I in? I thought. This stuff really happens. How will I survive? 
Just when the violence seemed to be over, a rhinoceros of a man with spider webs tattooed on his thick neck approached the skinheads. “How come we can still hear the chomo?”
“We smashed the chomo good, dawg,” Rob said.
“Not good enough.” The man went to the shower with the casual gait of someone going to the shop to buy a bottle of milk, grabbed David’s neck, and started slamming David’s skull against the concrete as if he were trying to break open a coconut. Crack-crack-crack…
I was revolted but compelled to watch. The big man had increased the stakes, and I didn’t doubt the code of these people included killing anyone who interfered or flagged down a guard. Even walking away would be a show of disapproval, an invitation to be attacked next. I was terrified.
David’s body convulsed. His eyes closed. Then stillness. Silence. He remained on the floor until a guard walked the pod ten minutes later.
“Everybody, lockdown! Lockdown right now!” the guard yelled.

Shouting at the guard, the inmates returned to their cells, slamming their doors behind them. Guards rushed into the day room. Pressing myself to the cell door, I watched them remove David on a stretcher. There was fluid other than blood leaking from his head. A yellowish fluid.


Aussie Pete said...

Just saw your story on locked up abroad here in Singapore - I don't know how u coped all those years, and memories such as this one will no doubt haunt you forever. Such strength to survive! (From one blogger to another)

Anonymous said...

what did you do before to go to jail ?

SELLING DRUGS !!!!!!!!!!! is it enough for you ?

Shaun Attwood said...

thanks so much Aussie Pete

Unknown said...

Just watched the programme,shock,horror.but as you said,if you could turn back the clock it would all be so different,how many of us wished that,really easy to criticise" anonymous"but no-one knows what's around the corner,you've done your time and now your trying to teach young people about your experiences,hopefully you'll make a difference to some,so good luck for the future

Unknown said...

Just seen the program about your time in jail, it truly seemed like a living hell

Shaun Attwood said...

thanks so much guys

Unknown said...

Good on the skinheads sorry ant got time for pedos

Unknown said...

Shaun just saw your programme in the UK. I don't know how you did it. I know someone who works in the court system in Arizona and she said that the sheriff is evil. I didn't believe her until I saw the programme. Glad u managed to get things changed.

Anonymous said...

Saw banged up last night, what an eye opener - all of it! Bet your folks glad to get you back to widnes. Best wishes

Jon said...

yes Mark, 62 people died in that jail over 5 years

Rachele said...


Anonymous said...


Rania said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, but if this is how US prisons are handled... imagine serving a sentence in a 3rd world country.