To err is human; to forgive, divine

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.

Now he’s here – now he’s gone

Well, another home leave is over.  I wish I could report that the time spent away from your husband gets easier, but I’m afraid to say that, for me, for us, it does not.

I messed up this home leave and actually had to go into work on Monday, which was strange leaving Mike in the house.  He was very busy doing the washing (I usually do mine overnight using Economy 7), cleaning his car (nope, not done that since….. can’t remember) and Hoovering again (going to wear it out).  He had quality time with his daughter and was absolutely exhausted by the time I returned home.  That’s what comes of stultifying in prison for one whole year.

Yes, one whole year has passed.  I was going to blog on that subject, but am really not in the mood.  We sat in the garden Monday evening and mulled over the time together we had lost.  We’ll get it back, metaphorically.

Today I worked from home which meant physically I was here but mentally I was at work.  Part of me wanted him to return so I could catch up on all those emails.  What am I turning into?  My husband, that’s what.  I felt so dreadful when he cried at lunchtime.  This time he just didn’t want to go back.  But return him I did, and now he’s gone.  It’s tantalising, this home leave, this is what life is like when you come back home – now you see it – now it’s gone.   Now he’s gone.

What’s life like on the way out of prison?

So I think you get the picture of what life is like in prison – boring.  Plain, simple and boring – and you can get terrible contact dermatitis from the excessively strong chemicals used to clean everything.  But what’s life like as you come towards the end of your sentence, specifically what’s life like for both parties (if your other half has stuck by you).

I think I might have said it before – it doesn’t get easier – and it doesn’t, after 11 months, we still had tears today as I slammed the back door, railing at my husband for incorrectly shutting it.  We got over that one quickly, but it’s an example of the tension going on.  The tables have turned.  My husband was never off the bl**ding Blackberry, always being called by his very forgetful colleague who would go over the same story several times a day. Time off and weekends were regularly interrupted because “I’ve just got to make this call…”, “I’ve just got to respond to this email” and now I find myself collecting my husband and saying the same thing back to him.  On Friday, my head was spinning after a particularly stressful event where I got blamed for the ruination of someone’s overseas holiday because something had gone wrong with her i-Phone – this was ALL MY FAULT!   I’m not the sort of person to walk out one day saying “sorry, I’m on holiday for the next three days”.  I stew over work, it’s important that I do a good job – like my husband – we find it difficult to switch off.  So the first day I couldn’t take anything in, couldn’t relax.  Saturday was good, I officially don’t work at the weekend, so no-one could contact me, Sunday lovely. Monday, well, he’s going Tuesday so mentally I was already saying goodbye.

It’s the same when you work and take a well earned week off.  You spend the first couple of days getting there, stressing over little stuff, the next couple of days are lovely, then you start getting anxious about going home, then you’re back at work!   4.5 days at home with your loved one goes in a nano-second, especially when one of you blows it by being in a strop because the other one is about to go again.  Grrr, I could kick myself.

But seriously, rant over, it is strained mentally, difficult emotionally.  Husband has made that transition now from “doing time” to “coming towards the end”.  He returns after his home leave not willingly, to continue his sentence, but because he has to and wonders what he’s still doing there.  Enough time has passed for him to have contemplated his misdemeanours and to want to start helping me build for our future.  The point is now lost, enough has been repaid to the victim in terms of both time and money.  This is when many a prisoner thinks “enough is enough” and absconds.  I seriously wanted to hold on to Mike today and tell him not to go back.  I need him home with me helping to sort out our life, I’m fed up with carrying the can on my own.  When you think about it, a lot of women in my situation may well have not been working when their husbands went away, they may have children.  Suddenly they have to take control, they are the decision makers, they have to get jobs and keep everything together.  Husband comes home from a life of enforced indolence (yes, we’ve already discussed that) and the wife is none too pleased by the change in attitude.  I have a different routine and it takes a strong couple to work through that.  I’m in such a privileged position where I have an understanding boss who is allowing my 20 days a year to be taken piecemeal so I am at home when Mike is on home leave – I can’t imagine what it would be like otherwise.  Some prisoners do not bother with the home leave feeling it is too much of a disruption (to both parties) to be worthwhile.

So as he comes towards the final two months of his imprisonment, has our tax payer’s pennies been well spent – I’m afraid to say I think neither of us believe this.  You’ve not been safer in your beds because my white collar criminal husband has been locked up.  And the gross employment of prison officers to guard him and his ilk is a total waste of money.  He should have received a suspended sentence, should have been tagged from the word go. We almost succeeded in turning a workaholic into a lounging, swearing, smoking bum – but not quite.  Mike is desperate to get out and to get working.  I am desperate for him to get out so I don’t have to keep taking odd day’s off!

Life on the way out of prison for your “average” white collar criminal is just as difficult as it is going in to prison.  But maybe I’m a hard taskmaster!