Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Jails have the highest death rate in the U.S. Shaun Attwood served over two years in Arpaio’s Jail before being sentenced to nine years in prison.
Prison was easier.
Shaun Atwood was a millionaire day trader in Phoenix, Arizona, but his hedonistic lifestyle of drugs and parties came to an abrupt end in 2002 when a SWAT team broke down his door. Overnight, Atwood found himself on remand for drug distribution charges in the notorious Maricopa Jail – run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a.k.a. the self-proclaimed “Angel of Death.”
In Hard Time, Atwood describes his life in one of the most controversial jails in the country. In vivid language, he illustrates a real world where rival gangs vied for control, crystal meth was readily available, moldy bread was the staple diet, and breaking the rules could result in beatings or even death.
Hard Time is the harrowing account of the twenty-six months Shaun spent trying to stay alive in a nightmarish world of violence, cockroach-infested cells, and food with dead rats in it. Atwood’s remarkable story provides a revealing look at the brutal, tragic, and even darkly comical aspects of life in America’s toughest jail.
“I once asked a guard how Sheriff Joe Arpaio got away with the illegal jail conditions,” Atwood explains, “and he said, ‘the world has no idea what is really going on in here,’ so I decided to document my entire jail experience to change that.”
Arpaio’s jail conditions are notoriously atrocious. According to a judge’s ruling, the Sheriff admitted knowing about, and in fact intentionally designing, some conditions at Tent City that created a substantial risk of inmate violence. Inmates are routinely denied access to necessary medical procedures to the extent that one pregnant inmate’s cries of pain were dismissed by Arpaio and his staff, resulting in a miscarriage that could have been prevented by more attentive medical attention. In 2005, county health inspectors found the water well in the facility where the pregnant women were held to be filled with mice feces!
What’s worse is that most of the inmates in Arpaio’s jail, like Atwood, are awaiting trial and have not yet been convicted of any crimes. Deborah Braillard, a diabetic 46-year-old mother who was arrested for nonviolent crimes and was awaiting her trial in Arpaio’s jail, was denied insulin by the jail’s staff, and died shortly thereafter.
Hard Time reveals these and dozens of other atrocities committed by Arpaio and his staff in secret. “I hope that my book causes outrage from the American public,” Attwood exclaims, “and that changes are made for the inmates rotting away in Arpaio’s jail system. Changes could save lives.”
About the Author:
Shaun Atwood studied business in Phoenix, Arizona, and went on to become a millionaire day trader—but he also led a double life. A fan of the Manchester rave scene, Attwood headed an organization that threw raves and distributed club drugs. While incarcerated, he submerged himself in literature—reading 268 books in 2006 alone, including many classics. He regularly speaks to audiences of young people about the perils of drugs and the horrors of prison life. His website is www.shaunattwood.com.