As told by the Locked-Up/Banged-Up Abroad episode "Raving Arizona," Shaun Attwood used a tiny pencil sharpened on a cell door, to write the first prison blog, Jon’s Jail Journal. His 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.
Raised in a small chemical-manufacturing town in northern England, Shaun was the first from his family to go to university. As a penniless graduate, he took his business degree to Phoenix, and worked his way up to become a stock-market millionaire.
But he also led a double life. An early fan of the Manchester rave scene, Shaun headed an organisation that threw raves and distributed Ecstasy. On May 16th 2002, a SWAT team knocked his door down.
Facing a life sentence, Shaun entered a lengthy legal battle. After two years of being held unsentenced, Shaun was convicted of money laundering and drug offences. He was sentenced to 9½ years, and served almost 6.
Shaun had only read finance books prior to his arrest. While incarcerated, he submerged himself in literature – reading over 1000 books, including many classics. By studying original texts in psychology and philosophy, he sought to better understand himself and his past behaviour.
Shaun was released in December 2007, and continues to campaign against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He keeps Jon’s Jail Journal going by posting stories mailed to him by his prison friends.
In July 2008, he won a Koestler award for a short story, which he read to an audience at the Royal Festival Hall.
Shaun presently lives near London, and talks to student audiences across the UK and Europe about his jail experience and the consequences he faced from getting involved in drugs and crime.
In 2013, Shaun's story is being televised worldwide to over 50 million viewers as an episode of Locked-Up Abroad/Banged-Up Abroad.
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:
One of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's guards getting onto a table and stepping on the neck of a helplessly restrained unsentenced inmate:
From Shaun's prison notes on books he read. The highest rating is 3 1/2 stars.