Author: Shaun Attwood
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Author: Shaun Attwood
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Very few books can make the hair stand up on the back of my neck or make me wonder if I will be able to keep my wholesome lunch down. However, Hard Time went further than that with nights of picturing the viciousness and stench and utter loneliness in my dreams. If I could reel from just reading about the experience, imagine actually living it – or through it.
Hard Time is not for the faint of heart or the weak stomached. There is no reason under the sun anyone, no matter what, should have to endure what Shaun Attwood experienced being detained in what they determine to be a jail – a detention center for those awaiting a hearing on criminal charges. Sheriff Joe Arpaio might want to reside a minimum of 30-days in the filthy, pest-infested cubicles he forces those pending charges to survive in – if they are fortunate to survive, at all. In fact, he might want to eat Red Death (a slop concocted of who knows what), have no commissary or fresh air, have access to water only every three to four days a week, and wear used pink boxer shorts. He might want to personally experience the lift, bend and spread of the strip search technique, and receive no medical attention. And maybe he would like to try out the thin mattresses that do not prevent bed sores, but do reek of urine, semen, feces, sweat, and other bodily fluids.
If you haven’t lived any of this, you cannot fully appreciate the despicable living conditions created by Sheriff Arpaio – that is until “Hard Time.”
How did Shaun go from a stable family and good job to an over-crowded, stinking tomb? The simple answer is he chose to relieve his stress from his stockbroker position by throwing rave parties and using and dispensing illegal drugs to his friends. The Tempe, Arizona police burst in through his front door, terrifying Shaun and his girlfriend, arrested them and hauled them off to face charges of running an “Evil Empire.”
Shaun’s girlfriend was released, but Shaun’s bail was unheard of at $750,000.00 – for a first time offender with a non-violent list of charges. The Tempe police department, it appeared, was hungry to lock Shaun up and to kyster the key. To make matters worse, just before a bond reduction hearing, the prosecutor added additional charges in what seemed like an attempt to make it impossible for Shaun to be released on bail – also adding an additional $750,000.00 bond.
The judicial system in Arizona, according to Attwood, leaves a great deal to be desired – unless you are a District Attorney looking to move up the food chain. For those looking for a fair shake there, don’t! Sly tricks, slippery maneuvers, and sneaky behavior are what you can expect if the next position in the food chain for those looking to further their careers is only the next big win in the newspapers. Shaun learned this the hard way – by waiting almost two years for his day in court.
Inside the jail, Shaun witnessed only things we read about. There were fights, where the thuds of body parts hitting floors and walls were clearly heard; blood and oozing yellow stuff from the physical damages; rape; racial power struggles; and ignored medical issues. The heat caused men to collapse and top that off with no access to water --the place reeked of foul body odor, urine, feces, and more. How does someone get away with treating human beings like this? “Arpaio does what he wants. The old fogeys in Sun City keep voting him back in ‘cause he’s out doing tough-on-crime PR stunts every week.”
Does this Sheriff know there are more drugs in the jail than on most Arizona streets (and that staff and visitors are smuggling it in)? Does he know that there are reasons the food manufacturers put “use by” dates on food – and those he hires to feed those only accused of crimes are being fed this trash (saving a few pennies at the expense of someone’s health)? Does he know that the walls literally come alive with cockroaches and the spiders deliver bites that are unattended by the medical staff – where the wounds are left to fill with pus as the skin deteriorates (medical staff puts EKG leads on legs to get a heart reading -- where does he find these people)? Does he care that the only rehabilitation in his jail is gang-led (perhaps this is his idea of keeping the streets safe once these people are released back into the public)? And from the looks of things, he doesn’t care about those he employs or he would not allow them to work in a facility that is smelly, pest-infested, and teaming with people who need medical care from contagious diseases.
The purpose of the legal system, according to Gandhi, is “to change men’s hearts.” The jail (and the judicial system in “Hard Time”) is clearly a business and can only change men into animals – animals that somehow survive and are forever traumatized or die trying.
It is a disgrace to permit any human being to treat another in the shameful way those being held for hearings at the “Hard Time” jail are being treated under Sheriff Arpaio. Many of those he is responsible for housing are there because they have been only been accused, arrested and detained for a hearing for causing injury or harm to another. According to “Hard Time,” isn’t Sheriff Arpaio causing injury or harm to others by knowingly allowing these atrocities to take place in a facility he is responsible for?
It is justifiable under the law to take away the freedom of someone for a crime they are found guilty of. However, it is against all that is civilized and humane to permit brutality and maltreatment, such as described in “Hard Time,” to happen to any human being, under any circumstances, and even more so to those that have yet to be convicted of a crime. If this is allowed to continue, Americans have no foundation to call this country “civilized.”
From the prosecutors who want to move up, to the detectives who want their names in the media, to the lawyers who just want to get paid and move on to another case, to the inhumane living conditions you must endure while waiting on the empty promise of a fair trial, you would think in a civilized society this would not be happening. But, it is.
In December 2007, Shaun was released and sent back to England. I can only imagine the jails are less atrocious and his talks “to audiences of young people about the perils of drugs and the horrors of prison” are doing some good – for him and the community he speaks to.