Here’s some more prison inside info for you. When an offender is sentenced, s/he only serves a proportion of their time inside. In Mike’s case, he was sentenced to three years, will serve one year, one and a half months (who’s counting – me!) inside before being eligible for parole. He will then (finger’s crossed, he hasn’t had his Parole Board Hearing yet, be allowed to be released back into society “on a tag”, which means he will have to wear a “tag” a monitoring device which will ensure he abides by his curfew times.
I met my friend at the cinema the other day and she was talking about films we could go and see when Mike gets out and I had to stop her. “You do realise he’ll be tagged don’t you?” My lovely friend thought he could still go to the cinema, hadn’t he attended when on weekend release? I had to explain that when Mike comes out for town visits and home leaves, he is trusted. He can stay out all night (albeit avoiding licensed premises) and generally come and go as he likes. We can go to the cinema and not get home until 10.30pm. But once tagged, that trust is gone. He will have to adhere to a curfew.
I spoke to his probation officer the other day to find out if it was ok for him to return to a local church whilst on a tag so he could play in the band there. That was fine, I was actually told he’s of no risk to the public, so him meeting with fellow inmates to play in a brass band is ok. But to stay out late to go, occasionally, to the cinema – no. To embark upon an Alpha Course (religion alert) – no. To attend any evening networking events in order to promote his business – no. For us to go for a walk around the block after I get home from work – no. He has to be in and to stay in by 7pm. No going into the garden, I mean right inside the house. His study, where he will work, is at the back of our house, to access it you have to step outside for about 10 steps – that’ll be out of bounds too probably. And this will go on until February 2013.
I admit, this did upset me. I had to sit down and give it some thought. And then I remembered, I have to be grateful for small mercies. The mere fact that he is coming home is supposed to be enough. The trouble is, we think Mike’s paid for his crime already – the fact that all the money was repaid, he’s jobless with a criminal record to boot, everything else chucked at him/us just seems pointless.
We’re desperately trying to move on – but society does not move at our pace, it does not forgive so quickly.