The recent announcement of prison reforms by David Cameron included an innovation which will be despised by many prisoners but which I myself warmly welcome: The introduction of alcohol detector tags for those on parole.
I am not in prison because of drink. That is, drink is not responsible for me being in prison, I am. However, drink was one of a number of factors which impaired my thinking, judgement, and decision making in life before prison, leading eventually to my conviction. Due to the fact that being ‘drunk’ was not the cause of me coming to prison, I have always been told that it is unlikely that, upon release, my parole license will have a no alcohol condition. I specifically asked if one could be put on at my own request, to give me extra encouragement to avoid alcohol, but was told that this would not be done because, bizarrely, they “cannot impose a license condition not to consume alcohol, only not to enter premises licensed to sell it, and that would mean not even going to the supermarket”. That didn’t sound right to me, but I had to accept what I was told and avoid alcohol once I am released by my own determination alone.
The announcement that parolees will be banned from drinking alcohol and fitted with tags which can detect it by monitoring perspiration therefore comes as a pleasant surprise to me. It is exactly what I have been hoping for.