Excellent book, I am also halfway through the next one (Prison Time) which is even better. Shaun has amazing people skills & inner strength to navigate safely through the madness of the US prison industry. The characters he meets inside are both hilarious & terrifying (in equal measure). A lesser man wouldn`t have made it. .
Well written. Puts the reader right in there, being able to imagine the smells and the food given out to prisoners. Wonderful to read that Shaun put his prison time to good use for studies. Do the crime, do the time...but the state of living these prisoners had to endure was not even humane. It’s a wonder Shaun is still of sound mind.
Having read a number of non-fiction titles about life in UK prisons, Shaun Attwood's 'Hard Time' came up as a suggested title. However, as I was reading for research purposes, rather than pleasure (or out of a morbid curiosity), I initially dismissed this title, as it is relates to Shaun's time in a US jail, but having read the synopsis of the book and the high number of 5 star reviews, I decided to read it anyway and I'm glad I did.
To set my stall out at the outset, I am not a liberal - especially where convicted criminals are concerned. I had also formed a vaguely positive opinion of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, having watched a very sanitised TV news feature/documentary on UK TV a few years ago. As I saw it, here was a man treating criminals in a manner befitting of their crimes against society, and (having been spoon fed a cushy version of life behind bars by the media), Arpaio seemed to offer a welcome solution to the problem of recidivism (re-offending). This book has absolutely turned my previously firmly held beliefs on their head.
Shaun fully accepts responsibility for his crimes (serious drug offences) and at no point does he try to glorify his experiences behind bars. This is not some macho BS, written by a hardened, unrepentant career criminal, What you get on every page, in vivid and terrifying detail, is the story of a young man plunged into a nightmare situation, almost totally out of his depth, with nothing but his wits, mental agility and a rapidly diminishing hope for the future to keep him alive. Against all odds, he slowly (but not fully) adapts to the hellish environment. Throughout this book, Attwood gives us a first hand account of the inhumanity of life inside Arpaio's man-made hell. The sudden, sickening violence; the soul-destroying futility and a pervasive sense of absolute despair. Every page of this book gives you a real sense of what life in one of America's toughest jails is like: brutal, heart-wrenching, cruel, tragic and utterly dehumanising.
I became so immersed in this story that, on a few occasions, I actually found myself pulling at my collar as I tried to shake off the overwhelming sense of claustrophobia during one of the many drawn out 'lockdowns' in unbearable, stifling heat.
Along the way, Shaun introduces us to a number of memorable characters - some savage, some vulnerable - but all damaged in some way by their incarceration.
Shaun has seamlessly combined his recollections, diary/blog entries and letters to loved ones, to deliver a story you won't soon forget. This is without question the hardest hitting and best told story of life behind bars I have ever read.
Now that I've finished the book, I still believe that prison should be tough, but never at the expense of a person's basic human rights - the same rights that are blatantly violated by the oppressive Arpaio regime. Before I read this book I probably would have shaken 'Sheriff Joe' by the hand, now that I've read it I'd be far more inclined to shake the sadistic bastard by the neck. I am so glad that I didn't pass this book by, and I strongly urge you not to miss this compelling story either.
Fabulous book - could not put it down. Tells the true story of one man's path from an extreme high, to the lowest of lows. I was so impressed with this book I have bought all by this author and donate them to a local Youth charity. Truly inpirational story.