Locked Up Abroad: Where Are They Now?: Shaun Attwood

If you tuned in to Shaun Attwood’s incredible story on Locked Up Abroad: Raving Arizona, I’m sure you have questions. We checked in with Shaun to get answers and see what life is like for him today and here’s what he had to say:

What was going through your mind as you drove to Los Angeles to pick up your first supply of 500 ecstasy pills? Did you just have the $7,500 cash payment in the car with you?
Driving to LA, not knowing what I was getting into, I was terrified of getting robbed at gunpoint, or kidnapped and held for ransom, or even shot. I thought the police might have Sol’s place under surveillance as he was a known Ecstasy supplier, and maybe follow me, pull me over, search my car and find the drugs, or track me all of the way back to Phoenix, and arrest me there. I was concerned about Sol selling me pills cut with something other than Ecstasy, which is why I insisted on testing one by chewing it. Driven by greed for fast cash, I put myself in a lot of danger. It was foolish and selfish of me not to consider the harm that drugs cause.

In the car apart from the $7,500 cash was my best friend, Wild Man, twice my size and not lacking in fighting skills. He had instructions to smash Sol’s door down if I didn’t return in fifteen minutes. I had a Sasha and Digweed CD, Renaissance, which I listened to on the way home.

When the money started rolling in from selling Ecstasy, what did you spend it on? Any extravagant trips, investments or goods?
Although I had fun spending it, I regret the enormous waste of money. I started using limos like taxis, and spent thousands on clothes. When I first arrived in America with only student credit cards to survive on, I lived off cheese on toast, and bananas, and shopped at Ross Dress For Less, whereas at the peak of my wealth, I’d jump on a plane to go clothes shopping on Melrose Avenue, LA, or Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Most of the money went on raves and lavish after-parties at resort villas that lasted for days. I gave drugs away for free because it suited my ego back then, which was as big as the Grand Canyon. I bought cars and rented apartments for my friends to show off, too. The cost of living in a million-dollar mountainside home with all of my other payments on apartments and cars raised my bills to $20 – $30 thousand per month. I invested in a rave clothing/music store called Sound Factory in Tucson. The Phoenix New Times reported that I flew my ailing grandmother over from England and smuggled money out of the country in the frame of her wheelchair. This is untrue. Not only did I lack the smarts to save any, my grandmother never had a wheelchair. After prison, I was deported back to England with no money or assets whatsoever. Rebuilding my life in the UK, I’m still scratching my head, wondering where it all went. 

At the height of your drug-dealing career, what was a typical day in your life like?
Waking up late morning involved jumping in the pool with my wife, Amy, swimming laps and frolicking around. We’d head to our favourite Indian restaurant Sher-E-Punjab in Tucson – where I once dropped $30,000 cash on the floor in an envelope and the owner found it, contacted me, and returned it. Later in the day, my right-hand man, Cody Bates, would arrive to discuss my illegal business. , including how much cash he’d collected and secured in our safe house, which workers needed more Ecstasy, who was having problems paying for their drugs… To avoid police detection, we only discussed these things in person, never on the phone. If everything was running smoothly, I’d go to a fancy restaurant with my wife such as Anthony’s In The Catalinas or The Gold Room. But when problems arose or key business associates such as the New Mexican Mafia wanted a face-to-face meeting, I’d head to Phoenix, pick up my two top bodyguards, Wild Man and G Dog, and try to fix things.

Cody Bates is one of several friends I’ve lost to drugs. He hung himself in rehab, an example of the horror of drug use that I tell young people in my talks to schools.

When you decided to give up the drugs business and get back to trading stock, where did you go? Did you tell your friends or just leave town, knowing that the mafia was after you?
After separating from Amy, I fell in love with Claudia and moved into an apartment in Scottsdale with her. She talked me into quitting the Ecstasy business. I never let anyone from the drug scene know where we lived. I enrolled in Scottsdale Community College to study Spanish. Unfortunately, my addiction to the drugs and the lifestyle was such that I still heard wolves howling for me to come out and party on the weekends, and I’d sneak off with Wild Man, getting high on GHB, which was my downfall. The evidence the police used against me was mostly calls around that time when I was dumb and desperate enough to talk about personal use on the phone. Although I’d quit dealing Ecstasy by the time the police caught up with me, I’d committed a lot of crimes over the years, so I certainly deserved to be punished. I take full responsibility for putting myself behind bars.

Did the police ever catch up with Sol, your ecstasy supplier in Los Angeles?
No. But they caught up with another one of my LA Ecstasy suppliers, DJ Mike Hotwheelz, an Englishman who served federal time and was deported for mailing drugs across state lines. I presently live with Hotwheelz near London. Three times a week we jump around to thumping dance music in a mirrored room with 60 women – but not at a rave – at an aerobics class called BodyCombat. We’ve both realised the error of our ways and become fitness fanatics. Our friends at the sports center find it hard to believe Hotwheelz’ stories about me, such as the time he played at one of my raves, and afterwards in a Scottsdale villa, he opened the refrigerator in the hope of getting a drink, and found an Uzi sub-machine gun.

What did you learn about yourself during the many years of incarceration?
In prison, I went on an amazing journey of self-discovery. Previously, I’d been zipping through life without considering the consequences of my actions, especially the harm drugs cause to society. Prison forced introspection and sobriety. After years of drug use, I felt a cloud lift from my mind. The clarity of vision made me wonder how on earth I was still alive after taking so many drugs and putting myself in so many dangerous situations. In jail, Gerard Gravano – the son of Salvatore ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano, a Mafia mass murderer – told me he’d once headed an armed crew dispatched to take me out to the desert. Prison forced me to grow up. I saw how emotionally immature, selfish, and foolish my behavior had been. The pain I caused my family made me ill, but added extra motivation to my soul searching. My mum had a nervous breakdown, which haunts me to this day. I regretted sending people down the road of drug use, which inevitably devastates not just users, but also their families. Shocked, I set out to try and make sense of my behavior. I submerged myself in psychology and philosophy books. I had counselling with a brilliant neuro-psychotherapist Dr. O, who helped strip the layers of my personality down in order to analyze my inner dynamics. I learned that the bad decisions that led to my arrest stemmed from anxiety and my addictive adrenalin-junkie personality type. I started doing drugs as a shy student to socialize because I lacked the strength of my mind to enjoy myself at a party sober. Dr. O said the key to staying out of trouble is to channel my energy into positive things, which is what I do now via writing, karate, gym classes, yoga, and meditation. To this day, I fall back on what he taught me and I’m forever grateful. Meditating for hours on end in prison, going deep inside of myself, gave me a great insight into my personality, especially how my brain manufactures excessive worries and anxiety through thoughts. Over time, I learned to stop such thoughts by concentrating on breathing, which short-circuited my anxiety. We have the ability to heal ourselves with a powerful tool called the brain. Thanks to yoga and meditation, which I practice daily, I’m still tapping into that power.   

What did writing your blog “Jon’s Jail Journal” mean to you during lock-up? How did you hide the logistics of writing secret documents from other prisoners and guards during the day?
Blogging meant a tremendous amount to me and my family – it was a team effort. My dad came up with the idea of starting a blog after he read about it in the news. My aunt smuggled my writing out of the maximum-security Madison Street jail, and typed us some of my early blogs. My parents handled all of the administration, typing blogs up and handling the correspondence with the public, which became a full-time job in itself over almost six years, taking up all of their spare time. Writing about the conditions – dead rats in the chow, cockroaches trying to crawl in my ears at night, gang murders, mayhem and violence – helped me deal with the situation and contributed to saving my sanity. Jon’s Jail Journal was inspired by a guard who said to me, “The world has no idea what’s really going on in here.” With a golf pencil sharpened on the door, I started documenting everything. I hid what I wrote in legal paperwork and letters. My aunt took the blog entries – still hidden in paperwork – out through Visitation, typed them up, and emailed them to my parents in England, who posted them to the Internet. As the blog became well known, kind strangers started to mail me books and letters from around the world. Their outpouring of support helped restore the faith in humanity I’d lost after experiencing inhumane conditions and witnessing constant brutality. It was as if my blog readers were there with me in spirit, and I’m forever grateful to them. On a mission to get the conditions changed, I was delighted when the BBC reported my blog. International media attention to the human rights violations followed. The maximum-security Madison Street jail was shut down a few years later, but Sheriff Joe Arpaio runs six different jails. He opened a new maximum-security high-tech house of horrors down the street. I even have footage of him on my YouTube channel bragging about his Tent City jail being a concentration camp. I still use the blog to campaign against Arpaio. Although incarceration worked for me, it was a disaster for most people I saw. Young people came in, were recruited by the gangs, started shooting up drugs, and committed acts of violence to earn racist tattoos. Perhaps that’s why Phoenix has the highest crime and re-offending in America, and Arpaio is the most sued sheriff. 

How did you feel when you returned to England again, a free man?
I got off the plane with a small box containing my scant belongings. Walking through Gatwick Airport, I worried that UK officials might want a word about my criminal activity and lifelong ban from America, but I breezed through customs, which was a relief. With blurred vision, I had difficulty locating my parents among the hundred or so people thronging around the gate. Out of nowhere, Mum ran at me, her jacket flying up and landing on the floor, my sister behind, tears streaming. I dropped my box, and with an adrenalin rush hugged Mum off her feet, and hugged my sister and Dad. After I reassured them that I was OK, we made jokes about me looking like a Russian dissident due to my lengthy stubble and gaunt face. On what felt like the wrong side of the road, Dad drove us away. For the first time, I read Jon’s Jail Journal on a computer, and posted a blog entry myself:

13 Dec 07

I’m free!

This is Jon/Shaun.

I can’t thank you enough for all of your comments and support over the years. My prison journey is finally at an end! I’m at my sister’s flat in Fulham, London. Tomorrow, I’m heading for my parents’ house in Cheshire. Tonight, I’m being treated to Indian food with my family, and I hope to get a good night’s sleep after several harrowing days spent in transportation (no food, sleep, showers, etc).

Much love. Talk to you soon.


Blog comments poured in from all over the world, congratulations and well wishes, raising my spirits. A documentary maker arrived to capture my return to society on film. At night, we went for an Indian meal. I tried chicken tikka masala, my former favorite, but the meat activated my gag reflex, and brought back memories of the mystery-meat slop known as “red death” in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail, so I decided to remain vegetarian.

The next day, I did two BBC interviews. We traveled home on the motorway, a five-hour drive. We stopped at a fish ’n’ chip shop. I tried to order curry and rice – popular in in the northwest – but the young server’s thick northern accent was incomprehensible to me. He fetched a girl who spoke to me slowly and concisely as if I were mentally handicapped.

The drive through my town brought back memories as if I were in a dream. Inside my parents’ home, the feeling intensified as I checked out each room. I ate, read the latest blog comments, and tried to sleep. Wearing socks, a beanie, a dressing gown, and buried under two fifteen-tog duvets in a room with a radiator on, I couldn’t stop shivering as I was so used to the desert heat. My ears turned to ice. I sneezed. My nose ran. I only slept for a few hours, and woke up with my vision still blurred.

The next morning, I went on a food-shopping spree, loading up on fruit, nuts, cheese, bread and beans. Going from aisle to aisle, being able to buy a banana was the height of ecstasy for me. At home, I filled a spoon with peanut butter and a cup with milk, and tried to consume them like I did daily in prison, but they wouldn’t go down, so I spat them out. After it being my main source of protein for almost six years, I could no longer eat peanut butter.

Claudia called to wish me good luck. One of my best friends, Hammy, showed up with champagne, and offered to hook me up with a local nymphomaniac, so I could make up for lost time.

In the day, my mood was mostly up, but exhaustion came in waves. The next night, I slept for thirteen hours.

Still traumatized from the journey and the whole experience, I sat down at a desk upstairs in my parents’ house and wrote about my release to the people who understand Arizona prison the most and with whom I feel a lifelong bond because of the intensity of what we went through: my prison friends I left behind. Longing for their company, I filled with sadness, almost wishing I could return to prison just to be with them. An ache expanded from my jaw up through my face. Tears fell on the paper, moistening it like my sweat did when I wrote from Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail. My teeth chattered. I missed them so much, I couldn’t stop crying – no matter how hard I tried.

It took months to adjust back to society. My parents helped tremendously. I was institutionalized, and used to being told what I could and couldn’t do. My mum said I was like a puppy dog following her around the house, awaiting orders. At first, it was hard to stop reacting as if I was in prison, but over time, I returned to normal. To adjust in a healthy way, I structured my life around positive activity. Exercise keeps me mentally strong. Writing books and talking at schools keep me focused.

What advice would you offer someone who is enamored with the glamour and money of a drug-dealing lifestyle?
I can understand why you are enamored, but it ends with the police, prison or death. Every time you do drugs, the pleasure slowly decreases, the pain increases, and the addiction gets a stronger hold of you. The addiction is extremely demanding. Over time, it will devastate your life and the lives of your loved ones. You may make fast cash in the short run, but in the long run, dealing will ruin you financially when you get busted and the police confiscate your assets. Your addiction will take your health, and in some cases – as happened to several of my friends – you will die young. In jail, I was surrounded by people who’d gone much further down the road of drug use than me. Most of them were injecting drugs and had hepatitis C, which is hard to treat and can kill you by slowly destroying your liver. All of the fun, glitz and glamor were gone, but they still couldn’t stop taking drugs. They were committing slow suicide. They had yellow-jaundiced skin and eyes, and their teeth were rotting out. Seeing their condition put me off doing drugs for life, and made me ashamed that I had dealt drugs. You have the opportunity to avoid a road that ends in so much misery. Life is meant at times to be tough and challenging. It takes a strong mind to remain sober and refrain from the lure of drugs. There are better ways to put meaning into your life. Take a look at all of your interests, and try to channel you energy into positive ones. Physical activity in particular will put you on a natural high.

What are you up to these days?
I credit incarceration with sending my life in a whole new positive direction. I tell my story to schools across the UK and Europe to educate young people about the consequences of choosing the drugs lifestyle, in the hope they don’t make the same mistakes I did. The endless feedback I get from students makes me feel that the talks are a better way of repaying my debt to society than the sentence I served.

When I’m not talking at schools, I’m usually on my computer writing my life story as a trilogy, which has turned into a 15-year project. My first book, Hard Time, was published in 2010, and covers the time I spent as an unsentenced inmate in the jail system with the highest rate of death in America run by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The prequel to Hard Time, Party Time was recently published by Mainstream, a division of Random House. Many of the scenes in “Raving Arizona” are based on Party Time and Hard Time. I’m polishing up the third and final installment from the English Shaun Trilogy, Prison Time, about the time I served in the Arizona Department of Corrections once I was sentenced. I hope to finish it by the end of 2013.

In prison, I formed friendships with people serving long sentences, some of whom are never getting released. My brief taste of their suffering instilled me with a long-lasting desire to do what I can for them, including keeping their voices being heard on the Internet at Jon’s Jail Journal. It’s my hope that this episode of Locked-Up Abroad and my book, Hard Time, raise awareness of the conditions in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s jail system. I’d like to see Arpaio get voted out of office, and a new sheriff put an end to murder, mayhem and human rights violations. 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 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.

Finally, I’d like to thank the staff at Raw TV and National Geographic for enabling me to realize my dream of exposing Arpaio’s jail conditions to the world.


  1. Roger C.
    United States
    April 25, 2013, 2:45 pm

    This guy’s story was bogus. In some way. He either was lying, or he was covering up what he did so he wouldn’t end up going to jail for something else. If he was making so much money and employed hundreds of people, why was he afraid of Sammy the Bull? When you are at that level, you would have to be a VERY bad guy. Looking at him, it’s hard to believe that he was any sort of drug gang leader. I’m thinking that he really just laundered the money and was a front for the people that were really running things.

    Nat Geo really needs to do proper background checks for their shows. Lots of bogus stories going around on Locked Up Abroad.

  2. Bruce Johnson
    United States
    April 25, 2013, 9:19 pm

    Joe Arpaio is the sheriff of Maricopa County, he runs the jail. He is not the warden and the prison is in a whole other county. The most time you do in jail is 12 months, prison you can serve life. This story smacks of fraud, if he did years after be sentenced he would have been turned over to the Arizona Department of Corrections and probably go to the prison in Florence, AZ.

  3. Roger C.
    April 26, 2013, 4:00 pm

    @Bruce, while that is an excellent point, how has his blog been up so long, and his book published without any sort of a background check. I did realize that as well. I’ll have to do some research.

  4. michelle
    April 27, 2013, 8:05 am

    Joe Arpaio the sheriff of Maricopa County has kept crime down for years. He does such a good job. The long sentence prison is not even in Maricopa county. Prison isn’t supposed to be heaven its supposed to reform you and make you pay with years of your life taken as payment.

  5. Roger C.
    April 29, 2013, 7:25 pm

    Who comes to Arizona to become a stock broker? That in itself, was the biggest hole in his story.

  6. NCH
    April 30, 2013, 6:06 am

    You guys really need to check YOUR information before making a snap judgement on something you saw once.
    Shaun Attwood has been responsible for changing human rights in American prisons and his exploits as a Drug King Pin are massively documented. Way before this episode was even conceived. The reason why it’s so hard to believe is what makes it an amazing story. Trust me its all true…plus loads more which I know couldn’t be shown due o the nature of it.
    The truth is stranger than fiction…believe me. I know

  7. Noelle
    culver city
    May 2, 2013, 12:57 pm

    It’s amazing, that some people slam “Attwood”, as bogus, and obviously you have’nt read “properly” .

  8. Joe Arpaio
    May 3, 2013, 7:23 am

    @Michelle; thanks for “getting it”. Inmates have to repent and they have to pay and ain’t no human rights convention gonna stop me from doing my job, especially when I got supporters like you.

    I’m actually thinking to step it up a notch and introduce some good old fashioned tried and and true methods that most bleeding heart liberals can’t stand the thought of but which our friends in Iran and Saudi Arabia have proved to work. Just lock him up, he gonna smoke that devil’s weed again. Cut his hands off and it’s gonna be a lot tougher to roll them joints.

  9. shaun attwood
    May 6, 2013, 11:23 am

    In response to the comments so far, Bruce correctly points out that inmates in Arpaio’s jail are mostly unsentenced. I did only serve 26 months in Arpaio’s jail, and the balance in ADOC. Due to the 50 minute limitation on the episode, the director decided there wasn’t space to include my prison time. My book, Prison Time, covering that time, is published next year. The director relied on Hard Time for his info, which covers my time in Arpaio’s jail.

  10. shaun attwood
    May 6, 2013, 11:27 am

    Roger C,

    Like I mentioned in the episode, dealing Ecstasy and the race scene weren’t dangerous like Scarface-type dealing. The danger escalated when Gravano moved in. Such stereotypes you quote aren’t accurate when it comes to the rave scene.

  11. shaun attwood
    May 6, 2013, 11:28 am


    Despite Arpaio’s PR, Phoenix has one of the highest crime rates in America according to FBI stats.

  12. shannon of perseveringprisonpages
    May 6, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Some people just dont have any clue about criminal justice, drugs, crime and the state of arizonas streets and prisons. Do a little research ppl before giving commenting on a subject.

  13. Ian Ali
    Phx, Az
    May 8, 2013, 12:39 am

    I knew Shaun during the time in question, I was not involved with any of the drug use or raves that Shaun organized, but I was the manager of a bar that he occasionally frequented and many of my waitstaff did attend his raves, we also had many mutual friends (although we could be described as acquaintances at best) and I assure you his story is 100% true.Congrats on turning your live around Shaun

  14. Roger C.
    May 8, 2013, 9:02 pm

    Baloney. Baloney Ian.

    Like I said, who comes to Phoenix to become a stockbroker? He knows why he came there to begin with. You can’t be that big of a drug dealer and be a decent person who doesn’t hurt people. There’s more to the story.

  15. shaun attwood
    May 14, 2013, 6:12 am

    There is a thriving stockbroker community in Phoenix. People come from all over the states to work there. Google shows numerous stockbrokerages in Phoenix. How is that baloney, Roger?

  16. Joe
    May 20, 2013, 5:50 am

    The best part of this show, is how always the drug dealer becomes a Hero after being in jail.

  17. Megan Kalu
    June 8, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Roger, are you on something? Who makes such a rediculous comment as “Who goes to Phoenix to become a stockbroker”? Why? Are there no white collar jobs in Phoenix? It sounds as though you assume ppl who hold that calibre of employment are ” a decent person ” as you put it. There is so much “white collar crime” out there that it would make your head spin if you actually took the time to research it Unfortunately, many just haven’t been caught. You’ve never left out a “thing or two” on your taxes? Well, that’s illegal if you have. So I don’t see this so-called “hole” in Shaun’s story for working as a stockbroker in Pheonix. LUA is an hour program. So much has been edited. You obviously haven’t read his book which explains it all. And “Michelle” as for your comment of “Prison isn’t supposed to be heaven”, no one says it’s supposed to be, but this is America and human rights should be abided by regardless if you’re in prison or not. I’m a court reporter and I see many “types” of ppl come through our courts, some that don’t deserve to enjoy the amenities that prisons offer, but it’s a constitutional issue. They’ve been put in place to protect every1. If enactments such as Human Rights begin to break down, then we’re no better than the ppl who are locked behind bars. And Mr. Arpaio, you come across as someone who doesn’t believe that ppl can be reformed and that’s unfortunate coming from someone who holds your position. My father was a police officer and then a police commissioner for over 40 yrs and he always said ppl enately have good in them, you just have to find it. He was a kind and compassionate man who would help anyone get back on the “straight and narrow”. So sorry, Mr. Arpaio, i’ve witnessed this. People can change.

  18. John
    June 8, 2013, 7:26 pm

    How could you have made millions investing at a young age but then move to America and be as broke as you say you were?

  19. A R
    June 18, 2013, 3:31 pm



  20. Carlo
    July 17, 2013, 6:40 am

    Whether you believe Sean’s story or not is besides the point. That’s between him and his maker. The fact of the matter is he is out to make a positive difference in society by educating young people on the detrimental effects of taking drugs. He is a positive role model which is not as common to come by these days and his story inspires others (including myself) to live life well!

  21. Fara Musa
    Toronto, Canada
    July 18, 2013, 3:48 am

    Just caught up with the Locked Up Abroad episode and was browsing the net on Shaun Attwood and saw this site. I’m just alarmed by the negative comments by people like Roger, Michelle and definitely Mr. Arapio. Shaun just like many of us had strayed into a dark path. At that time people aren’t able to differenitate much between right and wrong. They convince themselves that there is no harm in doing those actions that we would call ‘bad’. And I feel that it must have been the case with Shaun as well. No1 is calling him a Hero. He was caught and punished severly for his actions, which he now seems to regret. He realized his mistakes and his actions show that he is clearly sorry for what he did. His pleas to ask for forgiveness is between him and his Creator. He obviously can’t go back in time to do much for the people that got affected with his drug business. But by him educating the youth and sharing his experiences of his dealing days and jail and prison times is in the hopes to help radicate or at the least minimize the thoughts in young and older peoples minds of walking down that path. People such as Roger and Mr. Arapio sadly enough refuse to see that people can be reformed and strive to lead a better life. Mr. Arapio its a shame that you hold such a high position as a sheriff and live in free country like USA, but have small thoughts. If you feel that punishment should be like what’s in the Middle East, then maybe you should move there, perhaps they may appreciate your thinking. Its sad that we live in a society where there is so much hatred, envy, jealousy and where people don’t know what it’s like to be humble, kind, caring and loving. @Shaun, I’m happy for you that you have found a path that gives you inner satisfaction and where you feel that in some way you are contributing to help make the world a better place.

  22. Tony Frazer
    July 23, 2013, 10:10 am

    Just watched the TV program. This man is a common drug dealer who lived a rich lifestyle by selling misery to others. I too can’t understand why he would serve a sentence in a remand jail. Now he’s making money out of his wickedness. Where I live the locals are very poor, but they work to survive. Attwood could never understand this ethic. Pity he wasn’t one of the ‘statistics’ that didn’t survive his jail. Don’t buy his books and don’t encourage him, he does not deserve sympathy or support. DRUG DEALARS ARE RUINING OUR WORLD AND DESTROYING YOUNG LIVES. I have never commented on a blog before, but feel so strongly about this piece of excrement.

  23. Roger Z.
    North Pole
    July 23, 2013, 10:31 am

    You should go to jail, Roger C.

  24. Shaun Attwood
    July 23, 2013, 11:36 am

    Thanks Fara. I can only make amends by continuing to do good from here on. Where would the world be if people weren’t given second chances on life?

  25. justin griffiths
    working in indonesia
    July 23, 2013, 9:30 pm

    I also watched the documentary last night and i think when your not in possession of all the facts its hard to pass judgement on anything. I can see both sides of opinion from those who have commented, and to be honest im not sure where my what my final take on the situation is. Shaun if your story is true, then go for it buddy, expose the unfair despair some experience in these jails and see if changes can be made, but be ware of how people will judge you on your financial gain from these publications. I guess finding a balance is essential–good luck

  26. Georgianna Rogers
    Northwest Indiana
    July 24, 2013, 9:31 pm

    Shaun, I believe your story and its awesome that you turned your life around…..I hope you ignore the ignorant comments from those…. I just got done watching locked up abroad!
    One of my favorite programs to watch… I can’t even imagine what you must have gone through.
    I wish you many blessings now and always!!!

  27. Kitine
    Manila, Phils
    July 26, 2013, 10:06 pm

    Hi Shaun! I was moved by your documentary in NatGeo. I truly believe in second chances. Do not mind your detractors. I am starting to read your blog and I am surprised how detailed it is! We are so proud of you.

    Hope you can visit Manila soon to inspire more people.

  28. Margaret
    Milton Keynes
    July 30, 2013, 2:57 pm

    Hello Sean I watched your story on banged up abroad, and felt so sorry for everything that u went through I am so glad that u did not have to serve that 200years sentence given to u at first. U took somethng so sad and using it in to something so positive. God bless u, take care u are a survivor!I am proud of you !And glad that your parents care so much for you.

  29. Lauren
    July 31, 2013, 6:59 pm

    Hi Shaun I admire the fact you have turned your life around that couldn’t have been easy. I’ve grown up in a area where drugs are a growing problem still to this day and witnessed plenty of horrible things. I have never been in your situation but unfortunately known people I have grown up with take the wrong path in life I just hope they see the light before its too late. Well done I say not many people would be so open about this sort of thing.

  30. shaun attwood
    August 1, 2013, 11:23 am

    Thanks for all of your support, guys! I learned my lesson and now I’m trying to use it to help others.

  31. Kurt
    August 2, 2013, 1:12 am

    I listened to your story on Triple J while i was out running a couple of weeks ago & was blown away. I went straight home & ordered you book “Hard Time” I am 70 odd pages in & cant get enough. It’s great that you are able to help people after everything you have been through. Everyone has the right to have their own opinion about your story & I strongly believe that you are doing what you are doing because you want to help others, not for personal glory. I’m sure many young lives will be saved by hearing your story. All the best

  32. Virginia
    August 2, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Hello Shaun,

    I saw your story on banged up abroad. I had tears in my eyes seeing what you had to endure, and how prisoners were being treated. It breaks my heart to think that people can be so cruel to their fellow brothers. Well done, you are a real hero in my eyes. Your parents raised you well and you really have turned your life around. “Every seed to adversity is a seed to a greater or equal benefit”. Well done for coming out of this a better person. Best wishes on your new journey.

  33. Sall edge
    August 3, 2013, 5:58 pm

    He deserved everything he got and more!!!

  34. Sall edge
    August 3, 2013, 6:04 pm

    He’s goes on about seeing someone murdered in prison, how many teenagers have been killed through ecstasy!!

  35. alex mackay
    United Kingdom
    August 5, 2013, 7:54 am

    i dont think hes become a hero after being released from prison.hes telling his story relaying his personal experiance of the consequences he paid for living that life.easiest life to slip into with all the attention,glamour wealth and fame if you want to call it that inside that society hes living in.the thing is,i could read a hundred a books on the subject and tell people ,educate children to stay away from drugs or this or that will happen to you,but it would only take one simple question to make all what i say null and void and that is….did this happen to you?.the information i might share might be completely valid and legitamate but young adults and id say most people will only really listen to someone who has actually been in shauns position.its not fiction it was his reality and if he can keep other parents kids out of that world and indeed jail and prison by relaying his own experiances then he should be embraced not only by society but governments as well, as an ambassador against the drugs lifestyle.

  36. rashed
    August 7, 2013, 12:19 pm

    Wow! Burns are the most painful thing in the world, second to nothing! These poor people to be burned alive while
    conscious, unimaginable! My heart goes out to the families. And especially to those that survived and witnessed this!
    May God give them peace!!!!

  37. Emma Elisabeth Davies
    August 14, 2013, 6:26 pm

    I saw the Locked Up Abroad program, with Sean in and it was so gritty. I would recommend anyone to read his book as well Hard Time A Brit In America’s Toughest Jail, it is even better than the program. It is great that he is using his time and experience to help and advise others, if it stops just one young person ending up in a Foreign Jail on drugs charges it is making a difference. 🙂

  38. shaun attwood
    August 16, 2013, 8:27 am

    I really appreciate everyone who’s taken the time to leave a comment.

  39. Jason
    August 19, 2013, 10:17 pm

    I enjoyed the story very much… Shaun kept me engaged throughout.

  40. Kieran Binns
    Manchester UK
    August 22, 2013, 1:41 pm

    A compelling story Shaun – from someone who grew up in the same era. I’ll be reading your books. I can relate to many of your experiences although not on the same scale thankfully. Would be good to meet up and share some sometime. Keep up the good work.

  41. Kasia
    August 27, 2013, 3:16 pm

    It was the best Locked Up Abroad ever, thank you Shawn for sharing your story with the world, maybe you have saved or will some young people. You’re doing awesome job and I’ll surely write about you on my personal blog!

  42. Nick Start
    Berkshire, UK
    September 23, 2013, 4:09 pm

    FAO: Shaun Attwood-

    Shaun, I just watched the documentary on your time in Arizona and must say this- NICE ONE!

    I too have been in prison abroad ( Philippines ) and whilst it wasn’t for drugs, it was not a very pleasant experience, nor would I like to return! Some of the stuff we saw was awful, like yourself.

    I am fascinated by individual’s prison stories and would love it if you got in contact… Is this something you’d consider? Where are you based now? I am near Reading in Berkshire.

    I hope to hear back from you…



  43. brian
    September 23, 2013, 5:01 pm

    What did u do with all the money. As you had mill

  44. Mohd
    October 11, 2013, 2:03 pm

    you keep it up shaun, so many people are jealous of what you have because they can’t turn their lives around (whether it’s drugs or something else) so don’t pay attention to them.

    wishing you the best

  45. Garth
    November 2, 2013, 3:18 am

    Hi Shaun, great story and even greater ending in regards to going from bad and making good.

    Keep going, you still have a lot of making up to do .

    Mate quick question! Why did you go from UK to Phoenix? Why not to NY? Yes I know stockbroking firms in Phoenix but would have thought a kid chasing the dream would have picked a bigger city…mate the answer to this question is probably in the book but I obviously haven’t read it.

    All the best mate and keep working hard at being good!

  46. Ste Clark
    November 20, 2013, 2:25 pm

    Is’nt a shame that you have to justify yourself to these non believers, like previous mails on this site, it is the envy of those that are not driven or successful,
    I know Shaun is geniune and his story is accurate, well done to you and wild man, you make of life what you put in, knock the blokes all you want but these are top fellas!
    Read the book and judge it yourselves we see the world differently through young eye’s it is exciting and new challenges are a buzz, I think that they have paid for their mistakes, mentally, socially, physically, keep the faith brothers!

  47. pooh
    November 27, 2013, 9:36 pm

    I find his story not believable as others: he would of went to prison. As far as Joe Arapio. They need to clone for every state. Unless you have been victimize by a drug user, you will never know what havoc they do. I have no Qualms with how they are treated. Its just payback from the truama they gave out to strangers, neighbors, and relatives. I say good job Joe . Maybe there is justice after all.

  48. Gudy
    December 4, 2013, 7:11 am

    I to, watched the story locked up abroad. And I think that every singel person has in own vew on itm the important thing is that Shaun is now doing good things to tell the young people about what he did. And espacialy What NOT to do. I for one believe him because I know that people can turn their life around.

  49. Paul
    Durham |England
    December 17, 2013, 8:12 pm

    Shaun great story! It is so encouraging that you are sharing your experiences to educate and help others. I have a son who has missed the best years of his life after falling foul to drugs. I can only prey and hope he can have the opportunity to cross paths with someone like yourself to motivate recovery.

  50. virgil
    December 18, 2013, 10:59 pm

    this is an awesome story! it would make a great movie,i love stories like this,its just as good as the story of boston George”blow” or party monster.Its amazeing how quick you come up in the drug world and how your on top of the world one min.then how its all taken away from you and the price you pay.i lived a story almost like his,but it was my friends who were dealing the drugs but I was living with them and seeing how they lived that world and I was there because they were my friends and just hung out and had fun partying ,we lived in florida in the 90s and it started off ,I would see my friends with 1000 of x pills and ruffies and 1000s of dollars ,raves, big parties,books of acid,then a couple of my friend got busted with a semi truck full of weed,and Mexican cartel,then another group of my friends started running coke from Miami in boats,i seen boat loads of coke ,my friend got to keep 2 keys a boat load,lots of money and coke and other drugs,then some of my friends opened shop in tenn. we even hung out with a cast member from saved by the bell,it was crazy times I had to get out of that life I moved away from my friends, I kept in contact with them they were buying cars and trucks,boats and houses couple years later one of them got busted and took all them down with him he did 5 years in fed prison the rest did up to 10 years each,im glad I got away from them or who knows what would have happened

  51. virgil
    December 18, 2013, 11:24 pm

    this is an awesome story,i love stories like this,i think it would make a good movie like blow or party monster,people respond mostly good to this story because it inspires people and gives them hope,i think your a good guy shaun,keep doing what your doing,god forgives always remember that

  52. Joe murphy
    Belfast ireland
    January 6, 2014, 12:24 am

    Loved the programme going to a rave soon any ecstasy Shaun 🙂 only joking I was into them years ago but not now, happy new year shaun……

  53. Anthony Packer
    Perth, Australia
    January 7, 2014, 7:57 am

    Good to see the story published. Ectasy dealers are often people you would never suspect – often that bloke sitting at the desk next to you, or your nice middle class girl next door. I’ve never touched drugs of any type but still seem to know plenty of people who have sold them. I hope this story warns them.

  54. atul
    January 30, 2014, 12:44 pm

    just your program was finished on national geographic channel.story was awsum . its give gud lesson for teenagers.

  55. xavier
    February 1, 2014, 5:25 pm

    shaun is telling the truth it is in his book hard time so f*****g suck on it u ass holes

  56. Andy
    February 6, 2014, 10:47 am

    Why would he not be afraid of Sammy the Bull? Granted he was on witness protection at the time but he is still the same person who carried out 19 murders and was John Gotti’s underboss in the Gambino family. He is a seriously dangerous man. Dealing ecstasy was a totally different ball game to dealing cocaine or heroin at that time as it was such a new drug and Simon freely admits that he isn’t a Pablo Escobar type figure. I for one believe his story is real and i think he deserves a lot of respect for how he has turned it all into something positive. Best of luck for the future Simon!

  57. Andy
    February 6, 2014, 10:49 am

    Haha apologies Shaun not Simon 🙂

  58. Billy Moore
    February 6, 2014, 11:41 am

    Myself being a published author ‘A prayer before dawn’ and banged up abroad in Bangkok Thailand however on the receiving end of addiction on a drug known as ‘Yabba’ I have experienced many hardships and done things I didn’t want to do and gone to places I didn’t want to go through a habit I developed at an early age my choice and solely responsible for my actions that held me in austere conditions for 3 years sharing cells with 70 people have to agree with Shaun to educate the youths of today is our redemption and I wish to follow in the footsteps of Mr Attwood and be beneficial to our society today and make a change in the lives of others through our own mistakes. I have not read Shauns book so do not have an opinion on his story however the truth can be unbelievable. I came from a crack infested part of Liverpool to work alongside Sylvester Stallone as a stunt stand in on Rambo 4 unbelievable but true.

  59. Ryder
    April 7, 2014, 3:15 pm

    As i Read the whole Story, This Is Not A Fake
    This story Is based on a real Lyf F Attwood nd
    M really impreased frm this Story. I Salutes You
    Hats off for u Man Nd i Hv Learned Good thing
    From This Story nd I hope tat Many f people
    Get Inspiration From this Story nd Makes Their
    Life Beautifull….!!

  60. Ms Z
    April 22, 2014, 4:34 pm

    We love you Shaun. We are so grateful that you didn’t perish in that prison. Not many people have the ability to turn their life around. You know what Shaun, our experiences define our future. If you didn’t rave up Arizona, you would not be who you are today. If you didn’t go to that prison, you may still have turned out good but who knows you may not be the calm, kind, beautiful soul you are now. And we love you so much more than these keys would write.

    To that man who wants to chop off hands, repent of your behaviour, you do not treat your fellow human beings like that because you are in a place of authority given to you to help make prisoners better.

    Our Shaun is back to England. What he did was wrong. But we love him deeply. And we support his activism to get rid of systems like yours!

  61. Danny
    April 27, 2014, 5:33 am

    Well done Shaun, fantastic story and me personally beieving all you told in the programme, obviously some things had to be adjusted for tv reasons, i admire what you done, how you got away with it for so long and now how you have turned your life around to help others, again well done and all the best Shaun Attwood!!

  62. shaun attwood
    May 1, 2014, 8:14 am

    Thanks guys.
    L&R Ms Z 🙂

  63. Paddy
    May 12, 2014, 3:31 am

    What you have been through is absolutely fascinating but the biggest thing you have achieved in life is your ability now to help others. I was a participant of the early rave scene and have turned my life around from the hard drugs I used to use, but like you I still have something inside me that rears its ugly head from time to time and I have to get wasted but it seems to be getting more sparse as time goes by and ive done some pretty fucked up things too. What advice would you give to a man like me. Also do you still keep in touch with wild man. How is he. Regards and respect Paddy

  64. Jerry
    United States
    May 15, 2014, 9:10 pm


    Do you think you’ll ever be allowed back in the States? I think it would be great for you to talk to schools here, where you did the most damage.

    I like your story and I think you’re a good guy.

  65. Craig
    Manchester, England
    June 15, 2014, 11:44 pm

    Your a good guy shaun im so glad you have turned something as negative as six years in that hellhole and are now helping others. I went to the thunderdome and hacienda every week in the late 80s early 90s but unlike you i went on to harder drugs and im still not over it now 25 yrs later. All the best shaun your an inspiration to a lot of people.

  66. peder
    August 10, 2014, 3:35 am

    Hi saw the program i pitty you poor man, made some bad decisions like we all do but we cant run home to mum and dad
    to bail us out., like i read the blog wasnt your idea but your parents, they are trying to hide the shame they feel by making you a so called hero i have seen what drugs can do believe me!! so happy go lucky money chasers deserve the outcome are you a magician you must be to change almost 200 years in to 6 the plea bargain please publish it on your blog like to se the details and what you had to agree to sounds almost like you did time here in scandinavia the time line is about the same thats why drug pushers still do it
    hate the way you make it look so glamorous be real make money on your books and give it to drug rehab (Sincerely) P

  67. kathy
    October 9, 2014, 5:09 am

    Paddy, Try NA it’s programn might work for you & your addiction problems!
    Shaun-your doing & done a great thing! Don’t let those naysayers get you in a funk-keep figting the good fight, you have the Lord on your side! I’ll pray you never go back to prison, just remember the red mystery meat with the bad spud when you could be eating your Mom’s food instead! I’m so proud that you beat up the rapaist-I had a friend who did time who made it her mission to beat up women who abused their kids, elder people and any one else who couldn’t fight back-she used the sock with canned beans and really went to town and stayed away from the cameras as much as possible-the other inmates would tell her who they had heard so & so had burned their baby while high & she would pay them a visit. It helped her get rid of rage & was pay back for hurting the kids & elders in their lifes while high or straight. Keep up the good fight the Lor’s got your back Dude

  68. shona
    south africa
    October 21, 2014, 7:42 pm

    Dear Shaun, you don’t have to justify yourself to any of the negative people here. Just be happy that past is over. And begin a new life. Love from south africa

  69. Steve b
    November 13, 2014, 10:33 am

    Shaun,just read your brilliant book and watched the national geo programme. I want to say well done on turning your life around. I live approximately 500 yards from the thunderdome club where you first experienced taking drugs.just wanted to say how I empathise with what you went through during your darkest moments but just remember,you came out the other side and the world is a better place for the likes of people like you in it

  70. shaun attwood
    November 22, 2014, 8:40 am

    thanks guys!

  71. Wendy Palmer
    November 27, 2014, 6:00 pm

    Shaun, you are a brilliant author, and your memoirs are a page turner. Much love to you as I know you endured a lot of emotional pain. Your testimony will help others preemptively or as a lesson to others who ended up in similiar conditions. God bless you friend.

  72. Ruben
    January 10, 2015, 4:33 pm

    Hey Shaun I read ur book n I really enjoyed it.I wanna congradulate u on having da balls on exposing da devilish and inhumane condisions at Mr.Apraios jail.In da Bible it says that everything in da dark has to come into da light so believe it when I tell you that one day da truth will come out and I hope n pray that Apraio will be prosecuted to da full extent of da Law,”which I doubt” but hopefully for da sake of future inmates he’ll be exiled! Thanks & God bless to everyone…

  73. Jenny C
    February 4, 2015, 4:54 pm

    Hi Shaun,

    Just finished Hard Time, bought on the back of catching your Banged Up Abroad episode. Compelling read, I had clammy hands reading the last chapter about your sentencing!! Very emotional, moving read. Well done on doing so much good on the back of a bad time. Think I need to buy Prison Time now….

  74. Karen Mac
    March 4, 2015, 8:13 pm

    Are some of these people for real, Shaun realises the error of his ways & admits himself that he should be punished for what he did but I think one of the main points with these books was exposing the horrific conditions in these prisons and trying to help people. Also the good work he is doing now in educationg kids. Ignore the haters Shaun & keep up the good work.

  75. Tracie Griffin
    United States
    March 21, 2015, 1:54 pm

    This man Joe Arpaio is a disgrace to America! I can’t believe this is legal to treat humans like this. Saving money for the taxpayers is a lie! Open up your checkbook Joe and pay all the lawsuits yourself!
    There’s a special place in hell for you!

  76. chris
    Los Angeles
    May 15, 2015, 1:12 am

    I wish the rave seen was what it used to be. 90’s were a great time. Your story took me back and reminded me of some good times lol. I’m glad I never made it a lifestyle though. I love trance because of it tho. Big Sasha and Digweed fan as well as Paul Van Dyk and Armin Van Buuren.

  77. pankaj
    gurgaon, INDiA
    July 2, 2015, 1:37 pm

    wow men.. i watched your show on NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL..then after i read your blog that’s awesome… great job…

  78. Ann-Marie
    South Yorkshire
    August 4, 2015, 1:33 pm

    if the comment further up this thread from Joe Arpaio is the real deal, let me tell you Mr Arpaio, i think how you deal with your fellow human beings, who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in your prison is pure evil , Karma has a wonderful way of paying the evil back, i hope you get yours one day, YOU EVIL BASTARD

  79. Mel
    Phoenix, AZ
    September 9, 2015, 5:49 pm

    I’ve just read through all of these comments and I am loving the support of Shaun. I’ve read the trilogy of his experiences (even more excited about his next project) and if anyone is even halfway sane, can’t feel his caring heart through his words AND concurrent actions, then I wish Arpaio on you! These conditions, less than 7 miles from where I sit, are near 3rd world comparisons. (I wonder which would be worse?) I think Arpaio has had his time and then some. I only wish his awaited death could be orchestrated the way he orchestrates so many other human deaths. For that scenario, I’d cash in my life savings for a from row seat! Keep hiding behind your bullet proof vehicles Joe, you truly are a dead man walking.

  80. Lmao
    September 12, 2015, 6:19 am

    Lmao @ the couple idiots who believed that was really arpaio posting a comment…srsly??

    Glad youre decent shaun. Dont do heroin. Frealz.

  81. Kevin
    The u.s
    February 6, 2016, 2:44 am

    Hey Shaun, my name is Kevin papa. Younger brother of Mike papa of the Sammy the bull operation. I have an awesome story as well as you do. Went to jail in sheriffs joe Madison street jail and spent 26 months in Arizona department of corrections. Like you I’m emotionally scarred for life!! Always will be for numerous reasons. Anyhow, I’m interested in the work you do now talking to teenagers. I’d really love to chat with you about it.

  82. jeffrey scott berry
    warrensburg missouri
    February 23, 2016, 12:16 pm

    hello how are you. great show.

  83. joe arapio
    March 18, 2016, 4:25 pm

    when you work so long with inmates you learn to accept to take it up the ass. I learned how to love it

  84. R Johnson
    May 30, 2016, 7:35 pm

    Your story will undoubtedly help steer some vulnerable individuals from suffering the same fate. Your willingness to speak out is commendable. As you noted, the entire family suffers from one member’s drug addiction. Family therapy can be a critical component of the healing process.

  85. Kyle
    United Kingdom
    June 29, 2016, 4:02 am

    Rehabilitating yourself and being able to live a fulfilling life almost makes it all worth while mate. You’ve learnt from your mistakes which millions don’t, that’s a huge achievement in itself. Whether your story is flawed or not mate what you’re doing now is great and hopefully will prevent others from falling into the traps you did. What a story!

  86. Machine Vision
    September 7, 2016, 4:00 am

    Thanks for sharing this nice article. and i wish to again on your new blog keep sharing the article.Thanks For Share.

  87. Wm. S
    December 24, 2016, 9:54 pm

    To those of you hung up on why Shaun served more than a year in county jail the explanation is very simple: you stay in jail until your case works its way through the very slow court system. That could be a month or many years. While you’re there you’re not serving a sentence (although you are given credit for time served on your eventual sentence). Serving 26 months is not unusual if you have a complex case and you choose to litigate it rather than taking the first offer the state gives you. It’s obvious those of you harping on this have no idea how the criminal justice system works.
    I know Shaun through his sister, a woman I befriended when we helped build a newspaper. I have no doubt in the authenticity of his story. Any inconsistencies are no doubt the result of trying to document a perverse system from the inside. No doubt he needed to conceal certain things and it wasn’t easy to get his story out. Relying on ones memory might account for some very minor discrepancies, but I have no doubt 99% of what Shaun described is accurate.

    He may have left this out but, he moved to AZ to work as a stockbroker in part because he has family there. Had his Aunt lived in NYC, no doubt he’d have started his career there.

    Not only do I know Shaun to be a man of his word, his sister is dear friend and a fellow journalist and I doubt very much she’d lie to me. She told me about many of the things he described before his book came out and did so off the record and in confidence. Now that his books are out it matches exactly what she told me.

    He’s a rare example of someone who turned what could have been a life destroying experience into an unalloyed good.

  88. anne
    December 30, 2016, 8:47 am

    Thanks js for sharing Shaun.

    Unfortunately some people would need to experience the horror you did first to then believe you.require telling the truth.

    I believe you and do not for one moment think your story is fraudulent in anyway.

    What you went through was horrendous and anyone who believes your story is somewhat fake can go take a running jump!

  89. Lucy
    United Kingdom
    January 7, 7:40 am

    I have just finished reading Hard Time and Prison Time. To the people doubting Shaun’s story. If you read the books you might be in a better position to judge its authenticity. You are basing your ignorant views on a TV programme that had to condense years and years of raving, dealing, drug taking and judicial procedures into 50 minutes. The devils in the detail. Why would someone lie about something like this? There are too many infamous and influential people out there that could shoot this story down in flames it if were untrue. And, yes, he does talk about murders in prison and yes, many die from drug taking too. But, no one forced them to take the drugs it was their decision. However, murder most definitely takes that choice away. I am staunchly anti drugs. My cousin is a heroin addict and whatever else he can get his hands on. And a truly nasty pieces of work. But, when someone takes steps to actually rehabilitate themselves, that speak volumes to the authenticity of their conviction to remain sober and straight, and to educate others to the dangers of this lifestyle, from an informed perspective. I actually dread to think what could of happened had Shaun never been arrested. Eventually, I think the wolves would most certainly of devoured him.