He went to jail with no credentials and came out with three degrees-now criminology lecturer wants UK prisons to be rehabilitation centers.
Stephen Akpabio-Klementowski says the UK prison system has “seriously affected” Covid-19. “Low staffing levels were already affecting the delivery of certain activities before the pandemic, but Covid-19 has made things much worse,” he says. “When prisons were closed at the end of March, prisoners were forced to stay in their cells for 23 hours a day, and “non-essential” visits to prisons were prohibited,” he says. This meant that inmates did not receive social visits and were discouraged from being on site by non-essential personnel, such as education department staff,”This meant that prisoners could not receive social visits and non-essential staff, such as education department staff, were prevented from being on site,”
So inmates had little recourse to learning.
And he fears recovery services will suffer again with increasing covid rates in jails, as well as the possibility of a new national lockout.
Covid: Inmate mental wellbeing at risk of “irreparable harm ” Read more Akpabio-Klementowski understands the value of learning opportunities better than anyone. Today, he is a professor at the Open University of criminology. He entered jail without a single degree in 2002, but eight years later he left with three university degrees. Akpabio-Klementowski worked in the canteen during the day; he studied in the toilet at night – the only time and place he could find to focus on peace and solitude, he claims. “Sometimes I wonder how I did it. The idea that you can study in an environment designed to punish is ridiculous,” he says. “It’s noisy, and prisoners and guards were constantly asking me why I was investing in my education. They said, “It’s not going to do any good, it’s not going to clear your criminal record, it’s a waste of your time.
Akpabio-Klementowski returns to prisons on a regular basis to instruct and speak about the importance of education in minimizing recurrence. With more than 88,000 people currently incarcerated in the United Kingdom and the number growing every year, Akpabio-Klementowski, who is currently working on his doctoral dissertation, wonders if punishment and recovery can really coexist.
But with the “big stick” – we’re human, most people don’t react to punishment. You have to equate the concept of punishment with the psychological damage that jails do to the people under their care. You often hear people weeping at night in their cells. There’s so much self-harm, there’s suicide.
10 years after I was released, I still have nightmares.
Akpabio-Klementowski argues that in order to become rehabilitation centers, the prison system needs a full redesign, maybe with shortened sentences for each learning module a prisoner attends. He points to evidence showing that prisoners who complete any sort of learning are 9 percent less likely to reoffend after release than those who do not prove that it may work. The estimated cost of a jail spot here in the UK is £ 43,000. For that money, you could get a private education.””Deep crisis” in UK prisons as use of violence against inmates doublesRead moreHis comments come only days after the Observer found that use of violence against inmates has doubled in the last decade, amid a dramatic rise in assaults, self-harm and bad conduct by prisoners, and decreased opportunities for rehabilitation.Born to Nigerian pare