Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's Cockroaches, White Supremacists and More from Ex-Ecstasy Kingpin Shaun Attwood

Attwood on Arpaio's cockroaches

Back in August, I wrote up my interview with former ecstasy kingpin Shaun Attwood, whose memoir Hard Time: A Brit in America's Toughest Jail provides a harrowing account of his two years in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's medieval prison complex.

Filth, cockroaches, a cornucopia of drugs, the neo-Nazi Aryan Brotherhood and incessant violence all feature prominently in Atwood's book. Hair-raising and hilarious at turns, Attwood's account makes no excuses for what got him into Joe's jails in the first place -- an ecstasy ring in Arizona known to some as "the Evil Empire."

Arpaio and the deaths in the jails, and how Jon's Jail Journal started

Attwood was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison, with credit for time served in Arpaio's gulags, but he caught a break when the powers that be decided to deport him back to England in 2007. He is permanently barred from ever re-entering the United States.

That's too bad, in my opinion, as his book has just been re-released in the U.S. in hardback with a new title, Hard Time: Life With Sheriff Joe Arpaio in America's Toughest Jail. But the bar on re-entry prevents him from doing a speaking tour of the country.

Our loss. As you can tell from these recently-posted YouTube videos of Attwood telling his cautionary tale to British schoolkids, Attwood is an arresting speaker. He is currently offering the DVD of his lecture free to schools in the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.

To overcome this, perhaps Attwood could do presentations via phone or video-conferencing at local bookstores, with books pre-signed for buyers. Just a suggestion.

Attwood, aka, "English Shaun" on the ravages of drugs

His work serves as a testament to the corruption and cruelty of Arpaio's facilities, wherein 70 percent of those in the infamous pink underwear are pre-trial detainees, and are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

I know there's precious little sympathy for those who find themselves in county lockup or in state prisons for that matter. No one expects incarceration to be a cakewalk.

Bt at the very least, it should be humane. If your son or brother or daughter were to end up in stir, you would at least want them given food fit to eat and to be free from the threat of rape, guard beat-downs and other mistreatment.

English Shaun on rape in Arizona's prisons

Then there are those who are wrongly accused, people who may ultimately be acquitted, or, in some cases, falsely convicted. Should these people face the same conditions as well?

In any case, congratulations to Attwood on his U.S. release. 

The book is based in part on a blog he began while in Arpaio's jails,"Jon's Jail Journal," which was maintained by relatives, with Shaun's accounts smuggled out of visitation. 

Attwood still maintains the blog site, and you can read more about him, here.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons