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As told on National Geographic Channel's Locked-Up/Banged-Up Abroad episode "Raving Arizona," I used a tiny pencil sharpened on a cell door to write the first prison blog, Jon’s Jail Journal.
My writing, smuggled out of the jail with the highest rate of death in America run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, turned the international media spotlight on the conditions: dead rats in the food, cockroaches crawling in my ears at night, murders by guards and gang members (see videos below).
I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona a penniless business graduate from a small industrial town in England. Within a decade, I became a stock-market millionaire.
But I also led a double life. An early fan of the UK rave scene, I headed an organisation that threw raves and distributed Ecstasy in competition with the Mafia mass murderer Sammy the Bull Gravano, who put a hit out on me. On May 16th 2002, a SWAT team knocked my door down.
Facing a 200-year maximum sentence, I entered a lengthy legal battle. After two years of being held unsentenced, I was convicted of drug offences. I was sentenced to 9½ years, and served almost 6.
I had only read finance books prior to my arrest. While incarcerated, I submerged myself in literature – reading over 1000 books, including many classics. By studying original texts in psychology and philosophy, I sought to better understand myself and my past behaviour. I credit books for being the lifeblood of my rehabilitation.
Released in December 2007, I continue to campaign against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I keep Jon’s Jail Journal going by posting stories mailed to me by my prison friends.
In July 2008, I won a Koestler award for a short story, which I read to an audience at the Royal Festival Hall.
Banned from America for life, I presently live near London, and talk to student audiences across the UK and Europe about my jail experience and the consequences I faced by getting involved in drugs and crime. I have appeared on TV worldwide, speaking about issues affecting prisoners' rights.
"Shaun's story is the Manchester rave scene meets The Wolf of Wall Street and ends in The Shawshank Redemption" - Jon Ronson author of The Psychopath Test
"If you like Breaking Bad, you will love Shaun's books. Shaun Attwood was the Walter White of the Ecstasy market in Arizona" - DJ Keoki
Here's my full Locked-Up/Banged-Up Abroad episode "Raving Arizona" on YouTube:
Video of Aryan Brother, Pete Van Winkle, murdering Robert Cotton - an unsentenced small-time criminal who refused to beat someone up for the prison gang - in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jail:
Videos of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's guards murdering Ernesto Atencio, an unsentenced Latino war veteran, whose alleged crime was kicking a door:
From my prison notes on books I read. The highest rating is 3 1/2 stars