From Renee (Letter 41)

Renee – Only a teenager, she received a 60-year sentence. Almost 20 years later, Renee is writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.
I got moved to 18 yard, which I’m told has a lot of drama. Not by chance, either. At least nine lifers were moved. I’m no longer in a cell by myself. I have one roommate. Rumours from is they are going to use 14 yard for minimum custody overflow, which is curious because I really thought they could no longer have mixed custodies on a unit.
I can soon apply to the clemency board. I’m going to ask to be paroled to my last number that is in only six years. So should the universe decide to give me a break, I hope it is on the day of the hearing. I have an attorney who says he has been successful doing this type of thing. It really seems the closer I am to my shot, the more things seem to happen as if I am being tested. An example is the change in my living situation and having a cellmate. My roommate works maintenance for most of the day. When she comes back, I go out for a few minutes in the 109 degree heat for her to do whatever she needs to do.  

Two Tonys Prologue

I'm just putting the finishing touches to my book about Two Tonys, the Mafia associate who protected me in prison. Do you have any feedback or suggested improvements on the prologue below? 

The peep slot on my door slammed open. A pair of eyes gazed in. “You’ve got a legal visit. Back up to the door and don’t try anything stupid.” A key rattled. A latch clicked. A hatch unfastened.
I placed my book down, got up from the metal bunk, put my hands behind my back and fed them through the hatch. Handcuffs clicked on tight. Two pairs.
“Step away from the door with your back to us.”
The metal door squeaked open.
“Come out with your back to us. Any sudden moves and we will face-plant you into the concrete.”
I ended up between two guards packing pistols, trained to remain aloof, probably told, “If you slip and fall, don’t think a prisoner won’t grab your gun and kill you.” Chains jangled as they were secured around my belly and ankles. The door clanged shut and was locked.
“Down the corridor. Go!”
Curses and sewage smells rose from the cells as the guards boots clunked forward.
When they guided me past Visitation, I knew something was up. “Where are we going?”
“We can’t tell you for security reasons.”
They brought me to an office, and opened the door. “Can we bring him in lieutenant?”
 I shuffled inside: beige walls, a fluorescent strip light, no windows. 
“Three homicide detectives and a county attorney from Anchorage wanna talk to you,” said an overgrown redneck sweating through a tan uniform. “Have a seat.”
The plastic chair slid towards me scraped the concrete. Restricted by chains, I sat slowly. “Do I have to talk to them, lieutenant?” I asked, playing dumb.
“Then I don’t wanna talk to them.”
“I’ll call the gate to see where they’re at.” He got on his radio. “They’re on their way up. When they get here, tell them you don’t wanna talk to them.” That was his ploy to get me in a room with them.
With the three Alaskans was Dirk Taylor, a Tucson homicide detective who I’d been jousting with for well over a decade. In a beige shirt, brown pants and snakeskin boots, he tilted his cowboy hat, revealing his face, leathery and tanned, and a bulbous burnt nose.
“How’re you doing?” Dirk asked with a southwestern twang.
“Just fine, but I don’t wanna talk to you people.”
“We’re just looking to close some old cases,” the Alaskan attorney said. “We’re not gonna charge you with any crimes. We know you’re never getting out. Indicting you would be a waste of taxpayer’s money.”
Dirk steered his brown eyes, small and severe, towards the lieutenant. “Can you make him talk to us?”
 I kept my expression deadpan, but every fibre in my body itched for me to say, “What is it you wanna talk about?” But if you ask that question – I was taught a long time ago by the Mafia – you run the risk of dialogue with them, so you say nothing. It’s always best to take the Fifth Amendment, even if they only ask for your address. To come all the way from Alaska to Arizona, it had to be serious. Someone must have ratted me out for whacking members of The Brothers, a deadly biker gang that stepped on my toes in the cocaine business.
The lieutenant shrugged. “OK, you can go.”
Glad to get away from them, I stood.
“Wait! Don’t you wanna save yourself from the death penalty?” Dirk busted open a manila folder and slapped down a photo of a big bald dude on a hotel-room bed, a fucking mess, blood coming from his mouth, some of it congealed, his eyes closed, one foot on the floor, one on the bed, the majority of his brains on the ceiling. “We found your prints at the scene. Is there anything you’d like to tell us?”
Gazing impassively, I thought, Who’s Dirk trying to fool?
Dirk slapped down another photo: a biker stabbed to death in a prison cell. “How about this one?”
I shook my head.
Slap! Slap! Slap! Bodies unearthed from the Tucson desert. “How about these?” Dirk snatched a folder from the county attorney. He slapped down another photo: a biker frozen in Alaska with a chunk of his head missing. “How about this one?”
I shrugged.
Slap! Another frozen biker. “And this one?” Slap! A biker with his throat slit. “This one?” Dirk gathered the pictures together like a hand of cards and waved them in my face. I savoured his desperate expression. “You left a trail of corpses from Arizona to Alaska. Tell us something, anything.”
“OK. I have something to say.”
They gazed at me intensely. The detectives’ eyes were as cold as the corpses I’d left behind in Alaska. I wondered if hunting motherfuckers like me had injected ice into their hearts. “Don’t ever show up here uninvited without bringing me a soda and a burger.” I smiled at Dirk, who scowled. “Can I go back to my house?” I asked the lieutenant. He nodded at the guards with the pistols to return me to maximum security.
As if he’d got his fucking swagger back, Dirk said in a wise-guy tone, “When they sentence you to death, would you prefer the gas chamber or lethal injection?”

Shaun Attwood

From T-Bone (Letter 43)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter:

In supermax today, I got some legal mail, and the guard stood right in front of me and read it which is illegal. He stood there, right in my face with an evil look, and tried to lie about his behaviour. He wanted me to cuss him out, but I didn’t take the bait. There are always people who try to do all the unnecessary things to make it hard for everyone, who get off on being evil.

A new guy just showed up who they gave twelve years for killing someone. They gave me thirteen years for something I didn’t even do, and they had no evidence at all in my case. The new guy is white. If I had his case, they would have given me the death penalty.

The racist attitudes that drive these places are so messed up. The guys don’t realise that the hate, confusion and fear only lead to more problems. The system encourages the racism, so they can control everyone, and they never stop the drugs, the rape or the illegal activity.

Shaun Attwood  

Kill The Messenger - CIA Drug Trafficking

It's now declassified that the CIA was one of the biggest importers of cocaine into America in the 1980s that spawned the crack epidemic. The federal government under Regan and Bush Sr raised prison sentences for drugs while shipping the drugs in to finance a war in Nicaragua. The journalist who exposed this Gary Webb was labelled a conspiracy theorist and murdered - all in the movie, Kill the Messenger. 
Shaun Attwood