I have recently finished reading the trilogy by Shaun Attwood called Party Time, Hard Time and Prison Time, a true story about a British raver who went over to the U.S to work as a stock broker and despite being very successful in this field, ended up organising raves and selling ecstasy. Shaun details the raves and the drug deals in Party Time including the breakdown of his relationships and the manic way he lived before being caught and held with a $100,0000 ransom in Hard Time. At that point he is locked in the gang and cockroach-infested Maricopa County Jail that is run by “America’s toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio, and has the highest death rate out of all of the jails in America. After I think around 2 years awaiting trial Shaun was convicted to 9.5 years and his third book “Prison Time” documents his time served in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

The writing gets better and better as it progresses but it is simple writing not exactly James Joyce or Beckett. The reason the books are good is because they offer a real insight into the U.S justice system and the sort of people who end up in prison. All of them have a story to tell, they are interesting stories that draw you in and despite the person’s wrongdoing you find empathy and sometimes understanding. Some of the events Shaun witnessed in prison are horrendous and shocking but equally some of the depth of relationships formed and the lessons learnt are incredible.This is true life Breaking Bad with a conscientious end seeing as Shaun survived his time in prison by becoming seriously well read and meditating. Now he spends his free life visiting school children to warn them of the peril of drugs! I think it really sets out that there is often no clarity between being bad or good, and certainly having been convicted of a crime does not necessary make someone a bad person.

Available http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hard-Time-Brit-Americas-Toughest-ebook/dp/B004H1TBUS/ref=pd_cp_kinc_0″ target=”_blank”>

On the subject of prison, another brilliant read is Shantaram written by Gregory David Roberts and based on his own life. In 1980, while serving a 19-year sentence for robbery in Australia, Roberts escaped from prison and fled to India, where he spent a decade before he was recaptured and extradited. Roberts, with no money at all, ends up living in a hut in a slum in Bombay where he encounters cholera, human trafficking, a leper colony and cat-sized rats. He gains his neighbours’ respect by opening a makeshift clinic and learning Hindi and Marathi. Soon he finds a father figure in a gurulike local mafia boss, an Afghan named Khader, and a lover in a mysterious Swiss woman. Roberts is a gifted fighter and a tough man who survives some tricky situations but then he is arrested with no explanation and tortured extensively before Khader buys his release building the trust that has Roberts work for him as a counterfeiter and smuggler within Khader’s criminal empire.

I will not give away the ending but will say things are not as they seem for Roberts’ new life and he faces moving on again. The reason I liked the book was because like Shaun Attwood’s books is sets out that mistakes can be made, sometimes huge mistakes, mistakes that change life forever but they do not end life. In fact sometimes life can get bigger and more vivid as a result. What is important is that we do not cling desperately onto one set way of life so that if it falls apart we have nothing. The real value of life is the person you become, the journey you take and the experiences you encounter. Prison, becoming penniless and homeless, being utterly alone may seem like the worst things in live but they are survival and life evolves. I personally would prefer to be stuck in a life with Shaun Attwood than some boring middle management person who has a steady stable life and lives a life dictated by Government, law and fear. Anyway at least I can read about whilst on the train into London surrounded by those depressed looking suited individuals!