"Hard Time makes the Shawshank Redemption look like a holiday" - News of the World
Hard Time is the true story of how Shaun Attwood survived the jail with the highest rate of death in America run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Shaun moved to Arizona with only student credit cards and became a stock-market millionaire. He threw rave parties, distributed Ecstasy and a SWAT team smashed his door down. In jail, Shaun used a tiny pencil sharpened on the door to document the conditions: dead rats in the food, cockroaches crawling in his ears at night, gang murders and violence... Smuggled out of the jail, his writing turned the international media spotlight on the conditions.
Hard Time is a gripping page-turner for adults as well as a cautionary tale for young people. Shaun reveals how his incarceration devastated his girlfriend and loved ones. He now tells student audiences across the UK and europe about the consequences of drugs and crime.
Shaun's life story is coming out as the English Shaun Trilogy, with Hard Time as the middle volume. The prequel, Party Time, is scheduled to be published in April in the UK. The sequel, Prison Time, in 2014.
Shaun has also published two ebooks: Jon's Jail Journal and T-Bone.
Page 1 from Hard Time
16 May 2002
“Tempe Police Department! We have a warrant! Open the door!”
The stock quotes on my computer screen lost all importance as I rushed to the peephole. It was blacked out. Boots thudded up the outdoor stairs to our apartment.
Bang, bang, bang, bang!
Wearing only boxer shorts, I ran to the bedroom. “Claudia, wake up! It’s the cops!”
“Tempe Police Department! Open the door!”
My girlfriend scrambled from the bed. “What should we do?” she asked, anxiously fixing her pink pyjamas.
Bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang!
“Open the door!”
We searched each other’s faces.
“Better open it,” I said, but before I could make it to the door – boom! – it leapt off its hinges.
Big men in black fatigues and ballistic armour blitzed through the doorframe, aiming guns at us. Afraid of being shot, I froze. I gaped as they converted my living room into a scene from a war movie.
“Tempe Police Department! Get on the ground now!”
“Police! Police! On your bellies now!”
“Hands above your heads!”
As I dropped to the floor they fell upon me. There was a beating in my chest as if I had more than one heart. Crushed by hands, elbows, knees, and boots, I could barely breathe. Cold steel snapped around my wrists. I was hoisted like a puppet onto my feet. As they yanked Claudia up by the cuffs, she pinched her eyes shut; when she opened them, tears spilled out.
“I’m Detective Reid,” said a tall burly man with thick dark hair and an intimidating presence. “English Shaun, you’re a big name from the rave scene…
The Arizona Department of Corrections classified Hard Time as a threat to the security of the institution, and repelled Shaun's multiple attempts to get it inside to his prison friends. He even photocopied the whole thing, took the title page out, and had an American friend mail it from Pennsylvania, but it was detected. Below are the forms served to inmate Shannon Clark who the prison refused to allow copies of Hard Time shipped from Amazon.