A successful stockbroker who became a drug-dealer and wound-up behind bars in the notorious Arizona prison system, has been speaking at Burlington Danes Academy about his experiences.

Business-graduate Shaun Attwood, who featured in the Banged Up Abroad episode ‘Raving Arizona’, moved to the U.S. in 1991 with plans to make it rich. He led a double life, trading both stocks and ecstasy, before his arrest in 2002.

In 2004 the millionaire broker was sentenced to nine and a half years for money laundering and drug offences, serving just fewer than six.

“When I was in the jail I saw the horrors of what drugs can do to people because 90% of the guys were shooting up heroin and crystal meth,” Attwood said. “Some had aids, two thirds of them had hepatitis C, which is the one that kills you, and it made me ashamed of what I had done.”

In jail he started the popular blog Jon’s Jail Journal to share shocking true stories from the inside and raise awareness of prisoners’ rights. Since his release in 2007, he has written four books and made it his business to educate young people about the destructive power of drugs and the horrors of incarceration.

“I realised I couldn’t change my past, but I resolved to go out and share my story with people in the hope they wouldn’t make my mistakes.”

In his talk at the high-flying ARK academy, Attwood touched on drugs, violence, gang culture and cockroach-infested cells, offering a stark warning about the repercussions of crime.

Ex-con Shaun Attwood speaks to Burlington Danes Academy pupils
Ex-con Shaun Attwood speaks to Burlington Danes Academy pupils
 

“I wouldn’t do it if the students didn’t respond,” he said. “I think this is one of the very first schools I ever spoke at. I’ve been coming here for four or five years now and the responses are just phenomenal.”

Librarian Clare Hartnett, who organised the event, said: “The students really enjoyed the talk. Not only was it really positive in terms of promoting reading, but they came away with a greater understanding of the realities of prison and the consequences of drugs.”

Comparing his previous life to his current occupation, Attwood said: “I wake up with a smile on my face. I don’t have much materially but there are no dead rats in my food, there are no cockroaches crawling on me in my bed. You don’t appreciate life until you have everything taken away from you.”