From Xena/She-Ra (Letter 7)

Xena/She-Ra - A 6 1/2 foot transsexual and Wiccan priestess with a tattooed penis. The charismatic leader of Cult Of Xena (COX).  Cut off a testicle and almost bled to death. 

I stopped heroin! I’ve been clean now July 22, 2013. I am with a new man who has been helping me with my responsibilities. He is good to me. I have also stop smoking cigarettes. Wow, Huh! Five months now and I am getting fat and I am having problems removing this weight. I weigh 210 pounds now. I have a big ass now, which is great. My breasts are much larger. I am a B cup, 38B.

I don’t think I can talk any more about getting prison raped. It is an issue which is truly painful for me to have to relive. I have tried on countless occasions to put it all to words, and I am gripped with the same fear every time. Thinking about this and other events in my life are equally painful.

The doctors in here do not care for us people, and to find help elsewhere take steps which I have no control in doing. My head is full of Demons, they are dark and scary. I’m afraid to talk about them. How do I? Huh? How? 

Shaun Attwood 

Dawn of a New Adventure (Part 15)

Long-term readers of this blog may remember that back in 2008 I was grateful recipient of the mentor scheme run by the KoestlerTrust. I was assigned a mentor, Sally Hinchcliffe, an author who kindly travelled across the UK from Scotland to help me improve my writing. I documented the sessions here. It’s thanks to the Koestler Trust and Sally that I now have four books published.

More recently, I was contacted by the Koestler Trust about being a curator for their annual exhibition of prisoner art at the Southbank Centre. I gladly accepted. Last week, I spent a few days at the Koestler Trust location at Wormwood Scrubs prison selecting art to exhibit in my area of the Royal Festival Hall in September at the Southbank Centre.

These are going to be my bouncers at the exhibition door.
Out of almost 9,000 entries, I selected 19, mostly portraits. Knowing nothing about art, I chose what appealed to me and was of the highest standard. I’d compare it to when you meet someone, you pretty much know right away whether you like them or not. The theme that evolved organically from my selection is faces. Spending all day gazing at art was like meditating on colour. It was great to take a break from the computer to take up such an unusual challenge.

The staff were surprised that I picked a dog in a pink feather boa but some of you know me better.
With eight other curators, all ex-Koestler mentees, I’ll be at the Royal Festival Hall on September 23rd and 24th. The “Chasing Dreams” exhibition is free to the public and lasts until the end of November. If you’re in London around that time, please come and support this wonderful organisation and take a look at the prisoners’ art.
Fellow curator Daniel with some of his selection
Click here for Dawn of a New Adventure (Part 14)

Shaun Attwood

From T-Bone (Letter 26)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter:

It’s the same old, same old in this place. The cons are smuggling drugs in their asses and the guards allow it all to happen. There are fights and game playing and exchanging of money and promises. A guy was jumped for his store food. A guy overdosed on heroin and they got to fighting over who was to get what of his. Now we’re on lockdown for who knows how long.

There are a lot of wannabes who pretend to be part of the Mexican Mafia, Aryan Brotherhood or Mau-Mau. One jerk came into the pod and turned all of the Mexicans against each other by saying they had to pay taxes to him. Needless to say, all hell broke loose.

So I made a call to the fourth floor, where all of the shot-callers are locked down. I didn’t feel good about it at all, but all he had to do was stop bullying the weaker guys, stop demanding drugs off everyone who came in from the streets and trying to change the way he thinks in this situation. Guys like him never understand that you can’t keep pushing people around just because you think you can.

Now he’s on a hit list on sight they say. They rolled him out of here with a lot of fanfare and cat calls. He is a hated man. So many people are always trying to run things who aren’t qualified. There’s always one in the bunch who thinks he’s bad. The ones who are truly bad are either dead or put some place in the system where they can’t be around people. 

I now have two books featuring T-Bone, the hard-hitting Prison Time and a self-help book, Lessons from a Drug Lord

Shaun Attwood  

From T-Bone (Letter 25)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter describes more fallout from him smashing the rapist:

As I’m writing this, two things just happened. A guy trying to kill himself jumped off the upper tier, but didn’t die. There was a fight between a Mexican kid and a black kid over why they were looking at each other.

I had to fight another of the shower rapist’s homeboys. He was young and very strong, but didn’t have the experience. He called me out and I tried to ignore him for as long as possible. He put his hands on me by pushing me into a cell and hitting me upside the head. It hurt but I rolled with it and landed a left hook that let him know to stop and he did.

But his homeboys talked him into coming back. I was on guard for him. He tried to cut me with a razor. I had no choice. I blocked it with a double hand Russian arm bar, put him on his back and hit him with a right elbow. His head hit the floor with a dull smack and I walked away.

The last time I looked he was still out of it, lying on his bunk. It’s 9.30PM now and the guy is still hurt. All this because his homeboy couldn’t control his desires and he had to bully some skinny kid, who’s in here for drugs. The rapist saw a fish [new prisoner] and he had to have him instead of saying, “Here’s the ropes, kid” [the do’s and don’ts]. I don’t feel good about any of this crap. I hate bullying of any kind. It’s wrong. The guards are here, so I’ll write you later on.  

I now have two books featuring T-Bone, the hard-hitting Prison Time and a self-help book, Lessons from a Drug Lord

Shaun Attwood    

The Birdman (Guest Blog by Randall Radic)

Randall Radic is a former priest who served time for fraudulently remortgaging his church and rectory and spending hundreds of thousands on a luxury lifestyle. By helping convict a rapist murderer who had confessed to him, Randall was released early.

Virtually every stereotypically "grizzled" city newspaper columnist has made reference to how tough the pigeons of his city are.  Rats with wings, vermin, there's lots of colorful vernacular used to describe the notorious difficulty of getting rid of birds.  They're prolific and unmovingly territorial, and, yes, they do seem pretty tough, surviving mostly on trash and garbage, enduring all kinds of abuse from the humans who inhabit their cities with them.

     Pigeons, or rock doves (Columbidae for you science types), exist pretty much everywhere humans are.  That includes prisons, where the relationships between these feral birds and the men and women they're caged with can be quite unique.  There is an old, sometimes brutal symbiotic relationship between these two species of much maligned, and forgotten, souls.

     Every prison has a Birdman, one of these eccentric types who feeds the birds, sometimes claiming ownership over a flock of pigeons or seagulls that are ubiquitous at any prison around the world.  You'll see him standing in the recreation yard, maybe throwing scraps of bread to the local birds, or even acting as an impromptu veterinarian who untangles twine from a pigeon's foot or nurses injured baby pigeons back to life.  The Birdman-type comes in all shapes and sizes and colors, with the common denominator being that each appears to be crazy, or eccentric at best. Where I was housed was no different.

Randall Radic outside court
    He's an older convict with a limping gait and long blond hair that the birds seem to recognize easily.  And he talks to the birds.  The first time I saw him with the birds out there next to the basketball court, he was sitting Indian style, with a couple of pigeons on each knee and one perched on his shoulder like an ugly cockatoo.  And he was chattering at them.  I thought he was batshit crazy.  He waived a hello to me, but I was a bit too embarrassed to say anything back.  I mean, he was carrying on conversations with the birds that were engulfing him.

     It was crazier that the birds seemed to be listening.  I recall that Birdman was scolding a particular pigeon.  "Terry!  Come over here!"  I quickly stepped away to finish my workout.  Later, I told my friend Dave, who is as non-crazy as they come, and he replied, "Oh yeah, he's probably talking to Terry Dactyl -- Terry gets in weird moods when he won't come up to the front and eat."

     "Oh," I said.  "Of course."  Everyone had some Avian Flu or something.  They're all crazy.  Dave laughed.  "You haven't seen him with them?  Anything with wings, they all wait up by the metal detector for him every morning.  Pigeons, starlings, sparrows, seagulls -- even a crow sometimes."

     It was true.  I went out the next morning, and as soon as the sun came up, the Birdman appeared at the Rec Gate, mesh gym bag over his shoulder, and before he could even get through the metal detector, about 30 pigeons came parachuting down to him, flapping and squeaking.  Another few dozen others circled above, and a squadron of noisy little black birds -- starlings, I later learned -- landed on the razor wire.  Indeed, even a swarm of tiny sparrows zoomed in to join the festivities.

     I couldn't help but snicker when several cornrowed, tattooed gangsta types passing through the gate began cringing and swatting at the air as they hurried through the chaos, cursing and sputtering.  Not everyone is a nature freak, apparently.  Birdman yelled after them, "Don't worry!  They won't hurt you!  I'll protect you!"  The sarcasm in his voice was barely discernable, and the gangbangers missed it.  "Protect me?" one of the men snarled.  "Muthafucka, I ain't afraid of them fuckin' birds!"  Birdman's replay was so sincere-sounding, I had to laugh out loud: "Oh, I'm sorry, sir -- I thought you were afraid of being attacked, the way you were ducking.  My mistake.  But don't fear, these aren't attack pigeons."

     The gangstas stomped away, suspecting that they had been insulted somehow, and Birdman went along his merry way.  The 100 or so creatures with him floated around him, some of them racing ahead to the regular feeding spot, already jockeying for position, flapping, squealing, chirping in a frenzy.  Feeding time.

     Birdman was already speaking to the flock, saying good morning to individual birds by name, asking after one's sore foot, like he was greeting old friends at dinner.  I watched him pull out a giant plastic bag of food: rice, Ramen Noodle soup, oatmeal.  Easily several pounds of it.

     The birds went ballistic -- Birdman seemed to disappear in a haze of feathers as he attempted to toss handfuls of the food on the ground, with pigeons landing on his arms and shoulders and kinds of other birds diving at his feet.  A wild swarm developed in seconds, with several dozen pigeons piling up so that only their tails, pointing straight up, were visible.  A gang of starlings were frantically crowd surging over the pigeons and diving down into the mosh pit.  The noise from the seagulls was annoyingly oppressive: a dozen or so angrily darted into the scrum, trying for a mouthful of food but repelled by the sheer volume of the smaller birds.

     Birdman then pulled out a bag of Spanish peanuts.  The sound of the plastic reignited the frenzy, and this time, the birds went bonkers.  Within seconds, 10 to 15 pigeons dove onto Birdman, clinging to his arms, shoulders, and even his chest.  Another 3 or 4 wrestled their way onto the bag at his hip and the whole mass shifted in a wave where Birdman held out a palm full of peanuts.  The pigeons dove into Birdman's hand, piling up three high, climbing over each other to get a peanut.

     After several minutes of this mayhem, I watched the Birdman turn his attention to individual animals.  I watched in awe as he called them -- each by name -- and that particular pigeon flew up into his hand, waiting to be fed.

   These are feral animals.  As far as I can tell, out of the 100 to 120 pigeons who appeared to inhabit the prison (they never seemed to leave, except in a hawk's grasp), there were maybe two or three that appeared to have even been domesticated (as evident by numbered bands around their legs).  The rest were obviously feral.  I found it bizarre.  When the feeding was over, some birds stayed to peck at whatever miniscule scraps of food that could be found in the dirt, but most of the birds, from four different species, followed Birdman across the yard, squealing and "face-flapping" him all the way.

     So, while newspaper writers from various cities and states might feel as if they have the most hardened, grizzled pigeons, I'm a firm believer that they don't.  Prison does.  And we have the Birdman, too.  I'm sure that our prison pigeons would put even the pigeons of New York City's Central Park to shame.

Randall Radic is an advocate for Prison Education and the reinstatement of Pell Grants for Prisoners. He writes about prison education at and prison law at

Click here for the previous guest blog: Fleecing an Oligarch

Blog I wrote about prisoners saving a pigeon.

Shaun Attwood

From T-Bone (Letter 24)

T-Bone is a massively-built spiritual ex-Marine, who uses fighting skills to stop prison rape. T-Bone’s latest letter describes how the food is causing illness in the jail:

Because of the food in this place people are becoming constipated. One guy was unable to go the toilet to take a crap for six days. His breath was deadly. You couldn’t stand 8 feet from the poor guy and not gag. It’s so serious, it’s sickening.

Something happened to his system so that the smell would not stop coming out of his mouth. He raised hell with the guards. He had to pay $10 to see a doctor and then another and another, until it cost him $50. The final doctor was only a personal assistant who charged him $5 for five pills, so that he could take a crap.

He still doesn’t even come out of his cell because he is so embarrassed about his breath.

I thank God for everything that I have in here and for the help of all those people out there who have a heart to help me the way they are and the way they have.

I now have 2 books featuring T-Bone, the hard-hitting Prison Time and a self-help book, Lessons from a Drug Lord– both include T-Bone fight stories

Shaun Attwood