Sugar (by Lifer Renee)

Renee – As a teenager, Renee received a 60-year sentence from a judge in Pima County. 15 years into her sentence, she’s writing from Perryville prison in Goodyear, Arizona, providing a rare and unique insight into a women's prison.

I almost got thrown into some drama. Girlfriend issues. I guess people do not listen when I say I do not do domestics.

I have a friend, Sugar. She came in with 25 to life. Under the reclassification policy at the time she came in, she automatically had to do a year in the hole. While Sugar was in the hole, the policy changed from 1 year to 2 years. She only had 3 months left with no tickets, no problems, but now she has to do 15 more months.

A mutual friend, Terri, decided to hook up with Sugar while she was in the hole. Well Sugar is my roommate, Jess’s best friend, whom I’m also close with. Jess heard on the yard that Terri was cheating on Sugar with Heather, her co-worker. Jess didn’t believe the rumors, and while she was ranting I told her she shouldn’t believe he-said-she-said gossip.

So then she started watching Terri. She noticed Terri going into a cell, and Heather following her in. The occupants came out and sat outside C-pod where they never sit. So Jess walked to the door and saw black construction paper in the window – that’s done to give people at least two seconds before an officer walks in. Jess just walked in, catching Heather between Terri’s legs, doing the business.
Jess told them, “Good to know.”

This is all that I’ve heard about for the past week. So me and my roommate have had to tip-toe around the conversation because even though I know Terri is wrong, she is my friend, as is Sugar to Jess.

Drama! Can not stand it.

Click here for Renee's previous blog

Post comments for Renee below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun P. Attwood
Question Time

Jake from Gordon's School in Woking wrote the following:

Coming in and telling your life story about your experiences touched me and made me think in many ways. It made me realise that life is more important than any other thing in the world no matter what comes in the way. After listening to your talk, I walked out the door and I was just hit with many thoughts rushing through my mind. I had images in my head what it was like and then I asked myself if I ever got put into that situation would I be able to cope. So when you were in the American prison what were you emotions like and how did you deal with them, without others around you noticing?

When I first went in, I was terrified and it showed. Prisoners would come up to me and say I needed to get the fear off my face or else I’d get preyed on. When you're in such an environment you adapt fast or else you perish. It's like being in a video game with danger all around you, but you just soldier on and get through it. You'd probably do the same. We all have an amazing ability to adapt that we don't know about until we get in situations. As you adapt you lose the look of fear. A year in I'd see the same look of fear I once had, only in the eyes of the new arrivals. I used yoga to get my stress level down.


Would you say covering up your emotions in prison was one of the hardest things that you've ever done in your life because of the consequences that were on the line?

Covering up emotions became routine for me, but it was hard at first. For the first few days, I couldn’t sleep, and my emotional state was obvious. I was emotionally immature before I went in, and prison made me grow up fast.


You may have said in the talk, but how long were you in prison for? And when coming out of the prison did you come straight back over to England?

I served almost 6 years. I was deported straight back to England, and I'm banned from America for life. You can read more info about this here at my biography.


Now you’re back in England do you regret trying to take the rave scene across to America? Or would you have still tried knowing the consequences?

My biggest regret is the hurt I caused my loved ones. If I had known all of the consequences, I would have modified my behaviour.


And finally, for your book, is there a set date in September for its release?

There is no set release date yet. The publisher said it is slated for September-October publication.

Click here for the previous Question Time.

Post comments below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun Attwood
What is Mephedrone?

Mephedrone is a drug based on the chemical compounds of a plant out of Eastern Africa. Sold as a legal high, it’s use has exploded in the UK, where it has been linked to several recent deaths of young people, resulting in calls to have it prohibited.

As I’m getting asked a lot about mephedrone at my talks to schools, here is more info on it from Wikipedia:

Mephedrone (2-methylamino-1-p-tolylpropan-1-one),[3] also known as 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC), 4-methylephedrone, meow meow, [4] Miaow,[5] or MMCAT[6], is a stimulant and entactogen drug of the amphetamine and cathinone chemical classes. It is reported to be contained in some legal highs and is sometimes sold mixed with methylone, also known as bubbles.[7]It is a synthetic substance based on the cathinone compounds found in the khat plant of eastern Africa. Mephedrone can come in the form of capsules, tablets or white powder that users may swallow, snort or inject.[8] In 2009 it became the fourth most popular street drug in the United Kingdom, behind marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy.

History

The Psychonaut Research Project, an EU organisation that searches the internet for information regarding new drugs, first identified mephedrone in 2008. Their research suggests that the drug first became available in 2007.[6] Mephedrone was first seized in France in May 2007 after police sent a tablet that they assumed to be ecstasy to be analysed.[10] The drug was used in early products, such as Neodoves pills, by the legal high company Neorganics,[12] but the range was discontinued in January 2008 after the government of Israel, where the company is based, made mephedrone illegal. It has been reported to be sold as a designer drug, but little is known about its pharmacology or toxicology at present.[13] Mephedrone has recently been reported as having been sold as "ecstasy" in the Australian city of Cairns, along with ethylcathinone,[14][15][16] and has also been reported in Europe and the United States.[17][18] It is reportedly currently manufactured in China.[19] The Daily Telegraph reported that manufacturers are making "huge amounts of money" from selling the drug.[20] In January 2010 Druglink magazine reported that dealers in Britain spend £2,500 to ship one kilogram from China but can sell it on for £10 a gram making a profit of £7,500.[21][22] A later report, in March 2010, stated that the wholesale price of mephedrone was £4000 per kilogram.[9]

Use in the United Kingdom

Between the summer of 2009 and March 2010 the use of mephedrone grew rapidly in the UK, becoming freely available at music festivals, head shops and on the internet. The drug is used by a diverse range of social groups including teenagers, polydrug using nightclubbers, psychonauts and over 40s with no previous experience of drug use. Whilst the evidence is anecdotal, researchers, charity workers, teachers and users have all reported widespread and increasing use of the drug. The reasons for the rapid growth in popularity is believed to be related to both the availability and legality of the drug. Researchers also believe that the emergence of mephedrone is related to the decreasing purity of MDMA and cocaine on sale in the UK.[23]

Effects

Intended effects

According to the company Crew2000, intended effects include increased alertness, euphoria, excitement, feeling of stimulation, urge to talk and openness.[7] Psychologists at Liverpool John Moores University are conducting research into the effects of mephedrone on up to 50 students.[24] Les Iversen, the chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs called the experiments "pretty unethical".[25]

Side effects

According to the Darlington Drug and Alcohol Action Team, mephedrone can cause nose bleeds, nose burns, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, blood circulation problems, rashes, anxiety, paranoia, fits, and delusions.[1] According to Crew2000, other side effects may include poor concentration, poor short-term memory, increased heart rate, abnormal heart beats, anxiety, depression, increased sweating, dilated pupils, the inability to normally open the mouth, and teeth grinding.[7]

A survey conducted by the National Addiction Centre, UK found that 51% of mephedrone users said they suffered from headaches, 43% from heart palpitations, 27% from nausea and 15% from cold or blue fingers.[26]

Long-term effects

BBC News reported that one person who used the drug for 18 months, in the end using it twice a week, had to be admitted to a psychiatric unit after he started experiencing hallucinations, agitation, excitability and mania.[27] Almost nothing is known about the long term effects of the drug due to the short history of its use.[26]

Typical use and consumption

The Guardian reported that some users compulsively redose, consuming their whole supply when they only meant to use a small dose.[28] A survey conducted in late 2009 by the National Addiction Centre (UK) found that one in three readers of Mixmag had used mephedrone in the last month, making it the fourth most popular drug amongst clubbers.[26]

Harm reduction

The charity Lifeline recommends that to reduce the potential harm caused by using mephedrone, users should only use mephedrone occasionally (less than weekly), use less than 0.5g per session, dose orally rather than snort the drug and avoid mixing it with alcohol and other drugs.[29]

Toxicity

At present, very little is known about the toxicity of 4-methylmethcathinone. In 2009, one case of sympathomimetic toxicity was reported in the UK after a person took 0.2g of mephedrone orally and 3.8g subcutaneously. They were treated with 1mg of lorazepam and the sympathomimetic features decreased within 6 hours of treatment.[30] Reported side effects suggest it may cause pronounced peripheral vasoconstriction, which has been speculated to result from formation of the potent vasoconstrictor 4-methylephedrine as a metabolite,[3] a compound known to have significantly more cardiovascular toxicity than ephedrine itself.[31] The Swedish medical journal, Läkartidningen reported that mephedrone could theoretically cause the cardiovascular problems associated with the use of cocaine and amphetamines and serotonin syndrome associated with the use of ecstasy and LSD.[2] Reports of addiction and problematic use have also emerged.[1] Professor David Nutt, former chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in the UK has said "people are better off taking ecstasy or amphetamines than those [drugs] we know nothing about" and "Who knows what's in [mephedrone] when you buy it? We don't have a testing system. It could be very dangerous, we just don't know. These chemicals have never been put into animals, let alone humans."[32] Les King, a former member of the ACMD, has stated that it appears to be less potent than amphetamine and ecstasy but that any benefit associated with this could be negated by users taking larger amounts. He also told the BBC "all we can say is [mephedrone] is probably as harmful as ecstasy and amphetamines and wait until we have some better scientific evidence to support that."[11]

Deaths

In 2008, an 18 year-old Swedish woman died in Stockholm after taking mephedrone allegedly in combination with cannabis. An ambulance was soon called to Bandhagen after the girl went into convulsions and turned blue in the face, Svenska Dagbladet reported.[33] Doctors reported that she was suffering from hyponatremia and an autopsy revealed the woman's brain had swollen.[2] Mephedrone was scheduled to be classified as a "dangerous substance" in Sweden even before the girl's death at Karolinska University Hospital on Sunday, 14 December, but the death brought more media attention to the drug. The possession of mephedrone became classified as a criminal offence in Sweden on 15 December 2008.[34]

The death of a teenager in the UK in November 2009 was widely reported as being caused by mephedrone but a report by the coroner concluded that she died from natural causes. According to criminologists, the reporting of the death by newspapers followed "the usual cycle of ‘exaggeration, distortion, inaccuracy and sensationalism" associated with the reporting of recreational drug use.[23]

In February 2010, a 46 year-old man in the UK suffered a heart attack after taking mephedrone. Toxicology reports revealed he died directly as a result of taking the drug.[35] There have been other unconfirmed reports speculating about the role mephedrone has played in the deaths of several young people in the UK.

Legal status

· Australia: Mephedrone is not specifically listed as prohibited in Australia. Federal Police have stated that it is an analog to methcathinone and therefore illegal. In February 2010, 22 men were arrested in conjunction with importing mephedrone.[38] In March 2010 a youth was convicted of importing the drug and sentenced to six months alternate detention.[39]

· Canada: According to The Globe and Mail, mephedrone is considered a controlled substance by Health Canada.[40]

· Croatia: Mephedrone became illegal in Croatia on January 4, 2010.[41]

· Denmark: Denmark's Minister for Health and Prevention, Jakob Axel Nielsen, banned mephedrone,[26] flephedrone and ethylcathinone on December 18, 2008. This is from the Ministry of Health and Disease Prevention press release.

· Estonia: Classified as a "narcotic or psychotropic" substance and added to controlled substances list on November 27, 2009.[1][42]

· Finland: Through the Medicines Act, 4-methylmethcathinone is classified as a "medicinal product", making it illegal to manufacture, import, possess, sell, or transfer without a prescription. (from ot.fi, date unknown and City.fi, September 5, 2008)[1]

· Germany: Mephedrone became illegal in Germany on January 22, 2010.[43]

· Guernsey: It is illegal to import mephedrone into Guernsey.[44]

· Hungary: As of February 2010, mephedrone is legal in Hungary but legislators are considering whether to make it illegal.[45]

· Republic of Ireland: Mephedrone is currently legal[46] but possession and supply of the drug will become illegal in June 2010.[47]

· Isle of Man:The Medicines Act 2003 was changed in February 2010 in the Isle of Man so that the import and sale of mephedrone is now illegal.[48]

· Israel: In December 2007, 4-methylmethcathinone was added to Israel's list of controlled substances, making it illegal to buy, sell, or possess.[1]

· Jersey: Classified as a Class C drug in 2009.[49]

· Netherlands: In March, 2010, the Dutch Ministry of Health and the Medicines Authority IGZ informed the Ministry of Justice that they now consider Mephedrone an unregulated medicine and sales and distribution of it are now prohibited.[1][47]

· New Zealand: Classified as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. [50]

· Norway: The "Derivatbestemmelsen" is an Analog Act-type law in Norway that controls 4-methylmethcathinone, Bk-MBDB, Bromo-DragonFLY, 1,4-butanediol, GBL, and MBDB. See legemiddelverket.no. (last updated April 29, 2009)[1]

· Poland: Mephedrone is still legal in Poland (27.02.2010), but it can be mistakenly regarded as amphetamine by police since it comes out as amphetamine in standard police tests.[51]

· Romania On February 10, 2010 Romania revised its drug policy including 4-mmc and all cathinone related products to Table I considering it a high risk narcotic. Possession, sale, manufacture or distribution are punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison.[52]

· Singapore As of February 2010 mephedrone is legal in Singapore, 'CNN Go' reported that it is ordered over the internet and exported from the UK.[53]

· Sweden: Classified as a "health hazard" or "hazardous substance" ("h√§lsofarlig vara") pending further legislation, a ban on 4-methylmethcathinone went into effect on December 15, 2008, making its sale illegal. On June 15, 2009 it was classified as a narcotic.[1][54]

· United Kingdom: Mephedrone/4MMC is currently not covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971; psychiatrists have lobbied for it to be banned.[19] It is, however, an offence under the Medicines Act to sell it for human consumption, so it is often sold as "plant food".[26][1] The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) are investigating mephedrone as a priority along with other legal highs and will report their findings in 2010.[32] The chair of the ACMD indicated strongly in March 2010 that the drug would become illegal and hinted that it could be classified as a Class B drug.[25] The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction are also reviewing the situation and will report their findings in July 2010.[55]

· United States: 4-Methylmethcathinone is unscheduled in the United States[56] but has been made illegal in North Dakota. [57] Those selling the drug for human consumption may however, be prosecuted under the Federal Analog Act due to its similarity to MDMA.
Mephedrone Prevention in Schools

Author, public speaker and former club-drug user, Shaun Attwood, tells students across the UK, "When you take mephedrone, you're opening yourself up to a range of negative things to happen. It could be death. You might lose your mind. Why play Russian roullette with your lives?"

Shaun Attwood served almost 6 years in Arizona for crimes committed when he was part of an ecstasy ring. Two years after his release, his talks are being praised by teachers as having a major impact on deterring young people from drugs such as mephedrone.

"Shaun's presentation was truthful, honest and really well received by our students. He was able to talk openly and in detail about the effects drugs have had on his life. Our students really engaged with Shaun's honest and frank approach, and when offered the opportunity to question him, we couldn’t stop them!" Katie Royle – Lead Teacher in Citizenship, PHSE and RE – The John Madejski Academy in Reading

As mephedrone claims more teenagers' lives, Shaun Attwood said he is getting asked more questions about the drug from students and worried teachers. "When it comes to drugs such as mephedrone, young people tend to think they're invincible. They don't see what's coming at them down the road. I make them think twice by describing the horrific jail conditions I experienced as a consequence of my drug taking. I generally get bombarded with questions at the end of each session, and the students often email me for further advice."

"A particular boy in my year who has been meddling with drugs in the past spoke to me after Shaun's talk. He said what Shaun had told us had been like a slap in the face, and that he is revolted by what can happen from messing with substances. Since the assembly he has been completely clean and he plans to stay that way. I am sure that he is not the only student that was influenced enough to stay away from drugs, and I know that these people have only Shaun to thank." Year 11 Student - Weydon School, Farnham

Shaun Attwood said, "I just got back from talks in Northern Ireland. A teacher there told me that mephedrone is such a problem that the locals are lynching the sellers out of head shops, and one was even shot dead. He also said that teachers can talk to students about drugs until they're blue in the face, but they won't listen, yet my story had connected with the hardest to reach students. He'd never seen them sitting so attentively for an hour."

Shaun is available for interview and comment on the debate over what to do about mephedrone. Email writeinside@hotmail.com
Matt (Part 2 by Warrior)

Warrior - Serving fourteen years for kidnapping and aggravated assault. Half Hispanic and Scottish-Irish with family still in Mexico. Brought up by a family steeped in drug commerce. He writes some of the best prison-fight stories on the Internet.
This story is a continuation of Warrior’s previous blog that you can read by clicking here.

“What the hell you doin’ here?” Matt exclaimed.
“What the hell you doin’ here?” I replied.
“Ah, man. Long story. Domestic violence. In fact, it happened around when you stopped comin’ around. What happened to ya anyway?” I kept callin’ ya cell, leavin’ messages. You jus’ vanished on me.”
“Yeah, I got caught up. Now here I am,” I lied, telling Matt I was arrested earlier than I was.
“How much time you got?”
“Fourteen.”
Matt’s eyes opened wide as he let out a whistle. “For doin’ business?”
“Nah, an assault. Long story.”
“Wow, Gilbert!”
“Oh, by the way, name’s not Gilbert. It’s Alex.
Matt rasped out a chuckle. “I ain’t good wit’ names, so I’ll stick wit Gilbert.”
We spent the next forty minutes catching up. His family was well. He ended getting into a fight with the boyfriend of one of his daughter’s. The police came, and both were arrested for domestic violence. Matt was put on probation, but unfortunately couldn’t stay clean, so he had to do a year in prison.

Crack! The door opened, and a short prune-faced officer with glasses and a cap squinted at a clipboard and read some names. He called out for Mike and Bill, who both stood up, and exited the holding cell. Bill was heading back to the yard, Mike to see the dentist. The door slammed closed.

“How long you been down?” I asked Matt.
“Jus’ a coupla months.”
“How you blending in?” I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t doing too well.
“Awww, I’m hangin’.”
“What’s the matter? Some drama? You’re not fuckin’ with the dope are you? That shit’s serious in here, Matt.”
“Nah, nah. I know better. I’m too old to deal with that shit here. I’m trying to stay clean, and get to my family. I ain’t cut out for this life no more.”
“Well, maybe comin’ to prison is a good thing. You can clean up. You got a good family, Matt, you just needed to get off that shit, and get some clarity. Your old lady loves the shit out of you, man.”
“I know,” Matt said, his head hanging low.
“Is someone fuckin’ with you?” I felt the need to find out what was eating at Matt. I guess because all I’d done in the past, especially with him, I was looking to right my wrongs. After all the shit I’ve done, I often tell myself, I’ll be happy just to break even and end up in purgatory.
“There’s jus’ sorry motherfuckers round here. Ya know. No class.”
“I agree. So who is it?”
“Ah, jus’ some piece of shit named Midget I ain’t getting’ along with. It ain’t no thing though.”

Midget was some junkie deadbeat always borrowing and running up debts he never paid back. He was the excuse king, and life’s victim. Ask him, and he’d make you think he was someone life happens to, life never happened for him. He was quick to prey on those less fortunate or fearful enough to let him get away with it. And if you saw through him, he’d look for some vindictive way to get one on over on you. I couldn’t stand him. I wasn’t surprised to hear that Matt was having problems with Midget.

“Don’t sweat it, Matt. I’ll send word over there about him. A few boys owe me a few favors.”
“Nah, it’s cool, man. I ain’t no coward. I can handle my own problems.”
I had to give it to Matt, he still had his prison pride from the convict code.
“Look, man, don’t worry. I’ll deal with it for you. No one will know or ever speak of it to you or anyone else. It won’t be anything too serious, just an ass kicking, so he’ll relocate. You just promise me you’ll keep your nose clean, and get back to that beautiful family. If I hear of you fuckin’ with drugs or anything else in here, that’s your ass. Deal?”
Looking at me hesitatingly, Matt nibbled his lower lip. It looked as if he were listening to a devil and angel on either shoulder battling it out. “Alright, Alex.” Matt put out his hand and we shook.

Crack! Crack! The door racked open and my name was called. It was my turn to see the dentist. I went and had my routine, and was heading back down the hall. The fluorescent bulbs overhead were radiating an odd yellow that reflected off the linoleum tiled floor. Oddly, it made the hallway trip back seem longer than before. As I came around the bend, the escorting officer told me to wait a second as he had to drop some paperwork off. He disappeared into a door. I stood in front of the intake desk, where an officer was usually posted. With all of the staff shortages, the escorting officer was doing two jobs. Behind an old masonite desk was a dry erase board that held all of the ID’s for all of the inmates scheduled for that day. I glanced down the line, and saw Midget was scheduled, except he was in a different holding cell, for those scheduled for blood work. I immediately snatched Midget’s ID, and relocated it under the heading “Psych Line,” which was for the criminally insane and guys playing crazy. These individuals were placed in separate cells due to their propensity to act out and be violent to inmates as well as staff. By the time the officer came back, I could have rearranged every name on that board if I had wanted. We went back to the original holding cell. Matt was still there. I entered.
“You two are done. Stand by as I call transport to send you both back,” the officer said.

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Post comments and questions for Warrior below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun P. Attwood
From Two Tonys (Letter 13)

Two Tonys - A whacker of men and Mafia associate serving multiple life sentences for murders and violent crimes. Left bodies from Tucson to Alaska, but claims all his victims "had it coming." Diagnosed with liver cancer, and is fighting to prolong his life.

Hey English Cuz,

What can I say? “I’m sorry” has to be getting old to you, so I won’t even go there. I’ve been getting your mail, books, plus good moral-support letters.

First, allow me to write you with congratulations on your good turn of events in your literary career. This is great. No one can say that you don’t deserve this. I personally observed your hours and days working in your cage of a cell while many around you were busy whacking their puds or spreading drama with a mix of hate and envy. You were busy hunched over at your little metal slab of a desk in a heat-infested cell working your bald head off, with your eyes on the prize and the spoils that come with it. Cocktail parties. Limos. European baronesses, countesses. Dare we even dream of the ultimate? Tea with Her majesty! Yes, we do dare to. This is how railroads, tunnels, Great Walls of China are built, with one man’s dream. Yes, my friend, dream on. Don’t let it die. I’ll bet on you every time your name’s on the card. “You go, Limey boy, you go.” Please keep me posted, and I’ll start to keep up on my writing. I was just down, bro. But I’ve got some real good news at this end for me to share with you and our blog readers.

As you might be aware, I was told in December 08, I had terminal cancer and given an estimate of 3-6 months to live. This was done by a civilian oncologist who was 90 fuckin’ years old, and under an advisory position contract with the Department of Corrections. I was issued chemo, which I knew from my 9th grade education was a killer worse than cancer. Anyway, I quit the chemo, and I truly believe that’s why I’m still alive. This Dr. didn’t want me to quit, and told me if I did I had 90 days to live. Fuck it! I told him 90 days without that shit is better than a year on it. I quit, and I’m still standing. I went from 200 lbs to 140 lbs, but I’m feeling pretty good.

Now in over a year as his patient, I saw the guy once in person. That was at a hospital back in 08. The rest of my so-called exams were from a matchbox office on prison grounds staring into a 16” TV screen with a nurse next to me to poke where the good Dr. told her to. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for any help I get, and the truth is after my wicked past, any help is probably too much. But I’ll still take it. So now I’m on this morphine twice a day, and I stay pretty doped up. It’s a good pain fighter and seems to do the job (for now).

About 2 months ago, my Dr, the old man, along with St Mary’s Hospital had their contracts not renewed, and I got moved down here to Lewis Complex. You know the place we met, when I came out of the hole to a rock-star greeting, and you were mesmerized by my welcoming committee. Speaking of holes, I just got out of one. (But that’s another story. Later on I’ll write you about it.)

Getting back to the story I started. So now I have no oncologist, even though I didn’t really have one back then. The old Dr. was just pissing on my head, laddie, telling me it was drops from a soft summer rain. So I’m up here in Lewis, and early one morning they come and chain me up, put me in the back of a new Ford with two guards, and tell me I’m going to see a doctor. They drive me in style, radio playing, comfortable back seat, good scenery. I’m doing it. We pull up to a new building in Casa Grande about 100 miles from here. It’s a medical lab. 21st century, and it is modern. The 3 of us are shown a nice exam room, and after 10 minutes a real nice Asian Dr. comes and introduces himself to me, shakes my hand and examines me as best he could. Then he proceeds to explain to me that we’re all different. The old Dr. should never have told me that shit at any rate. He ordered all new blood work. Cat scans. Etc. He explained that they were now under contract with D.O.C, and he’s my oncologist. This is great. He explained that after my new tests are compete, him and the surgeons discuss the results, and they may do a treatment called T.A.C.E. It stands for Transcatheter Arterial Chemoembolization. They run a tube up through my thigh to my liver, pump chemo, then take the tube out. Bingo, lots of bad cancer cells die and perhaps I live a little longer. Time will tell. I’ll be sure to keep you posted. I’m so excited.

Love to you and your family and all good blokes and birds across the seas.

Two Tonys

Click here to read Letter 12.

Two Tonys is dying, and really appreciates your comments.

Post comments below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com. To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

If you would like to send Two Tonys a book or a magazine subscription, then please email me for instructions on mailing literature to the prison.

Shaun P. Attwood
Clean That Up (The Early Years Part 1 by Polish Avenger)

Polish Avenger – A software-engineering undergraduate sentenced to 25 years because his friend was shot dead during a burglary they were committing. In Arizona, if a burglar gets killed, the accomplices can get 25-year sentences.

The year was 1994. The place was the dreaded gulag known as Cell Block Eight a.k.a. Special Management Unit I a.k.a. SMU a.k.a. Supermax Lockdown. The worst of the worst. The hole of holes. At the time, it was the highest security joint in the entire State of Arizona. And I, your humble Polish Avenger, was sent there directly from the county jail. Not for being a badass, but due to the felony murder charge. Despite my criminal misbehaviours, I’ve never really been a “tough guy.” Nevertheless, I was to begin my 25-year sentence in a baptism of fire.

Actually, it wasn’t all that melodramatic. Sure, there were a few close calls and dangerous moments (to be chronicled in future posts), but for the most part it was 100% what those places are supposed to be: sensory deprivation and solitary confinement. L-O-N-G days! Enough to drive a fellow stark raving bonkers with boredom at times.

So you can imagine how happy I was one day (about 6 months into my stay) when they came and told me, “Get ready to work.” Hell yeah! Out of 60 people in my section, only 5 of us were nominated. Ah me, what an honor, I thought, nearly skipping with glee down to the work area to be issued equipment.

The first shadow of apprehension clouded my delight when the equipment turned out to be a paper hazmat suit, three pairs of latex gloves, a spray bottle of bleach, and several scour pads. The rest of the happy vanished when they led me to one of the infamous holding cells, popped open the door, and told me, “Clean that up.”

We must take a moment here to digress upon the holding cell. The ones at SMU are a particularly unpleasant place to find yourself. Granted, it is deliberately so. In a supermax prison, when you get unruly, and need a “time out,” you go to a holding cell. For up to three days. It has a concrete slab to lay on. It has a steel sink and toilet that the guards can cut the water should you try to flood the room. It has a 12-foot ceiling, so you can’t tamper with the 24-hour lights. It has a little window in the door. It has a trap-door slot, also in the door. And that’s all.

We’ll meet these holding cells again in posts to come.

The one we’re talking about for the moment had just been the living area of one of those unruly, misbehaved malcontents. For three days. And whoever this person was, apparently he’d decided to channel his anger and malcontentedness into trying to cover every single square inch of the place in feces. Literally. There was poo on the floor. There were big pooey handprints all over the walls. There was flung poo stuck to the 12-foot ceiling. There was poo all over the window. About the only poo-free spot was the toilet. Go figure.

At the time, this was the most poo I’d ever seen. Outside of the zoo.

And yes, my new job was to clean that up. All of it. By hand.

And I did! As you might imagine, it did not smell like roses! I also discovered a rather interesting physical property of human excrement, one that I had been blissfully ignorant of up until then. That stuff is like concrete! If you squish it into a cavity, like the holes in cinderblock, and then let it dry, it’ll harden up and become nearly impossible to dislodge. Later on we had decent results using a high-power pressure washer to blast it out. Unfortunately, that also tended to atomize it into easily inhaled particulates.

Back to the story! It took me several hours, almost all the bleach, and a strong stomach, but finally the cell was fit for the next occupant. A sergeant inspected it, gave me a gruff “Good job,” and told me to be ready again for work tomorrow. I was officially a Biohazard Porter for the princely sum of 5 cents an hour. After deductions, I netted 2.5 cents. With hard work and savings, some day I’d be able to buy that bag of chips I’d always dreamed of.

My prison career had begun.

Click here for Polish Avenger’s previous blog.

Coming soon: Two Tonys’ latest letter.

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Post comments and questions for Polish Avenger below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun P. Attwood
The Scary Fun of Prison (Part 2 by Guest Blogger Andrew Donegan)

Andrew Donegan's blog is Wheel of Life at piebald77.blogspot.com

MY BROTHER, Jacob Michael Junior, was recently detained for two weeks due to non-payment of fines. On his first night ever in prison he witnessed an individual storm into his shared cell and demand that my brothers pad-mate remove his trousers and pants, squat down, and ‘empty his arse’ right there on the floor. The individual was on the shameless hunt for smuggled drugs (or at least my brother hoped he was), and lay himself down to get the best possible view, threatening obscene levels of violence if he didn’t at least see a ‘turtle’s head’. My younger brother was understandably unsettled by this behaviour and opted to see a carer at the first possible opportunity. The carer, you guessed it, turned out to be none other than the individual!

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Post comments and questions for Andrew below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun P. Attwood
The Scary Fun of Prison (by Guest Blogger Andrew Donegan)

Andrew Donegan's blog is Wheel of Life at piebald77.blogspot.com

MY FRIEND, Stephen Farnham, once walked in on a prisoner masturbating over a sheepskin rug. The same guy was notorious for always having a hand down his pants. To top things off this jokester spread a bout of genital warts like wildfire around the iron-pumping population by leaving trails of his germs all over the bars in the gymnasium. Other users would share these bars, bite their nails, and hey presto, they had a dose of it too. On their faces! So be careful…

As this is Andrew’s first guest blog at Jon’s Jail Journal, your comments would be greatly appreciated.

Post comments and questions below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun Attwood
Prison Food (by Lifer Helen)

Helen’s boyfriend murdered her son. Not only did she lose her son, but she was sentenced to 20 years for the murder. 9 years into her sentence, she’s writing from a state prison in Georgia.

Monday to Thursday we get three meals a day. Breakfast is something they call creamed beef and biscuit. Lunch is either bologna, ham or a peanut butter sandwich. And dinner is always some kind of mystery meat, collard greens and beans. If you don’t go to the store, you are in trouble.

On Friday to Saturday, we get a muffin, pancakes, and French toast for breakfast. Later on, we get either spaghetti, hamburger and hotdog, or a mystery meat served yet again with greens and beans.

It is nothing to speak of. I’ve lost more weight in prison than I lost after having a baby. I don’t go to the store, but it’s OK. In here, if you ask someone for something to eat, you end up paying with some sort of sexual favor.

Click here for Helen's previous blog.

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Post comments and questions for Helen below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun P. Attwood
Question Time and Book by Prisoners

Syncopated Eyeball asked:

It looks to me as if you still have ambition but that you have changed your goals for the better. More importantly it seems that you have changed the nature of your goals so that now you work from a position of compassion and desire for justice; not just from a desire for personal wealth/glory. Would you agree with that? I'm also wondering if you think that your ambitious nature actually helped in your surviving that awful jail term?

Being in prison transformed my perspective on life. I was emotionally immature before prison, and my goals were hedonistic. In prison, I formed friendships with people, some of whom are never getting out. The time I served gave me a brief taste of their suffering, and a long-lasting desire to do what I can for them, including keeping their voices being heard on the Internet. It’s my hope that my book increases public awareness of the conditions in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system, and conditions get improved. It’s also my hope that by posting to the Internet what I'm doing in the schools and how I'm developing as an author, prisoners who read this will be inspired to achieve positive goals. I have a lot of friends in prison who are rooting for me to succeed, and looking at me as a role model.

A number of factors helped me survive the jail term, including my optimistic and ambitious nature. Also, the support of my family, friends and blog readers must not be overlooked.

Les asked:

Are things progressing with your book ? Are you still doing your thing speaking to groups of people?

My book, Hard Time, is slated for September-October publication with a division of Random House. It covers the 26 months I spent in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system, and other than the chapter on Jon’s Jail Journal, it’s all new material. I’m presently writing the prequel, which covers everything before a SWAT team smashed my door down.

I’m doing a lot more talks this year than last. Students are reacting emotionally. Some have cried, including a male student, and teachers have told me they had to fight back tears. I had quite an adventure at a school just a few days ago. It was located in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, equestrian crossings, and cosy pubs with names like The Half Moon, The Plough, and The Winning Post, so I was expecting an easy audience. At the reception, I was told the teacher who'd booked me was off sick, so they weren't expecting me. That the majority of the sixth formers were drunk, including the one who wasn’t supposed to be gallivanting on the roof. Then the students refused to leave the common room to go to the hall for the talk. My only option was to speak to them in the common room, so I went and set a table up with my water on. Some of the students were lounging around in couches and seemed rebellious at first, but as I spoke they became more and more interested. After the talk had ended, they asked me questions for a further 1½ hours, which was the most questions I've ever received, and I found quite incredible. They ended up a great audience, so I drove home with a big smile on my face. Afterwards, the contact teacher emailed me the following:

We’ve had some brilliant feedback about you – the first time anyone has ever managed to keep the students quiet for so long!

It would be great if you could come back in September when our students first arrive; it would be a good message to start the academic year with.

We have a challenging bunch of students here and it is a testament to you that they listened in the first place, so well done.

My creative writing teacher in the last state prison I was at, Dr. S, has published a book, Caged Writing: Prisoners Respond to Unusual Writing Assignments. Some of my writing appears in this book, as well as that of seventeen other prisoners and former classmates. If you want to check it out, the book is available by clicking on either of these two online stores:

Xlibris

Amazon

Click here for Dawn of a New Adventure Part 7
 
Post comments below or email them to writeinside@hotmail.com To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.
 
Shaun P. Attwood
Arizona Department of Corrections Christmas 2009 (by Shane)

Shane - After being denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs financed by burglaries. For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, he was sentenced by Judge Ron Reinstein to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

Christmas this year was an eye-opening event for me and other prisoners. The conditions, atmosphere, and overall attitude of the staff were a telltale sign of ADOC’s affairs, as well as the prisoners’ and personnel’s states of mind.

In the past, Christmas was still a “special” time of the year. Prisoners got visits with their family on Christmas Day. Oftentimes, a mini-family reunion. For too many prisoners this was their only visit due to financial hardship. Prisoners were permitted to receive three 25lb food boxes from their family and friends, which would often last until the next season. The commissary would add a wide variety of seasonal items at reasonable prices. Religious services were held for all of those interested. On Christmas Day, the evening chow was a large meal with real meat, potatoes, stuffing, veggies, rolls… We’d leave the chow hall stuffed. Even guys like me who are prone to depression during the holidays could find joy.

Christmas 2009. No holiday visits. No food boxes. A small price-inflated holiday commissary list, from which certain orders weren’t filled. No religious services. No lunch. A small breakfast and slightly enhanced dinner, including “roast beef,” instant potatoes, canned veggies, a stale roll, and a small sliver of pie. I slept through breakfast and dinner.

I tried to make the most of the evening. I gave away a few bags of mixed nuts, a couple of boxes of peanut brittle, and a few other commissary items to some less fortunate prisoners. Three other prisoners and myself all pitched in, and made a meal for us to fill in for ADOC’s lack of lunch.

It was a depressing and gloomy day. While many prisoners simply sulked, slept and idly felt every minute pass by, waiting for the day to end, some chose another route. A familiar one. A numb one. A route laden with disappointment, heartache, instability, chaos, and confinement. A route that begins with a needle. All to fill the void in time, and the hearts and minds of those sitting behind bars on Christmas Day.

Click here for Shane's previous story.

Click here for my last Christmas in prison

Click here for the Xmas Spirit of Two Tonys

Our friends inside appreciate your comments.

Email comments for Shane to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below. To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun P. Attwood