Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio Allows Shaun Attwood's Hard Time Into Jail Library

Here's a little news for those Sand Land haters out there who've dissed Shaun Attwood, author of Hard Time: A Brit in America's Toughest Jailthe subject of my most recent Bird column.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the guy Attwood takes to task for the squalid, dangerous conditions in his vast incarceration complex, is going to allow Attwood's book into the jail library.

In a letter from the MCSO's Timothy Overton, director of "ancillary services," Overton welcomes Attwood's request to donate copies of his recently published memoir.

"Sheriff Arpaio has asked me to correspond with you regarding your generous offer to donate copies of your book `Hard Time' to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Jail Library," writes Overton.

Overton then tells Attwood where to send the books, and thanks Attwood for his "kind and generous offer" on behalf of the sheriff. You can take a look at the letter, here.

It's an interesting concession, as Attwood's book blasts Joe's gulags as cockroach-invested hellholes, where violence is an everyday occurrence, bodies of dead rats show up in an already gag-inducing evening meal called "the red death," and a smorgasbord of illicit drugs is readily available amongst the inmate population.

Is Joe admitting that Attwood's description of the jails is accurate? That would seem so, as Attwood sent Arpaio an autographed copy of the book, and Joe Tweeted that he was reading it.

Joe's jails operate without accreditation, have been condemned by the ACLU and Amnesty International, and have become a veritable charnel house for some.

The wrongful deaths in Arpaio's custody lead to the inevitable lawsuits, resulting in payouts of $8 million here, $9 million there. So far, it adds up to more than $43 million, all ultimately covered by you and me, the taxpayers of Maricopa County.

Attwood was awaiting his day in court while he was Arpaio's prisoner for about two years. He freely admits that he was guilty of violating several drug laws as he operated an ecstasy-running business in the Valley.

Does that excuse the conditions Attwood endured? Hardly. In his book and in his online blog, "Jon's Jail Journal," he details an environment that breeds criminality, brutality and sometimes, death.

That taxpayers continue to foot the bill for that environment is one of the many outrages of Arpaio's rule. And, alas, it's an outrage without end as long as our geezer gendarme is in power.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons