The man began to study while in prison and after his release, he became a doctor of criminology.
Stephen Akpabio-Klementowski was sentenced to 16 years in prison for drug trafficking, but managed to study, reintegrate and become a doctor and associate professor of criminology at the UK Open University, he says in a documentary made this month by the BBC.
«Life was hard, I had to take what I could get.
Akpabio-Klementowski as a teenager his father died in a car accident. «Life was hard, I had to grab what I could,» the man says, stressing that by that time he did not see the world as a meritocracy.
«Being sent to prison for dealing drugs was a shock,» he said. After the first three months, during which he did not talk to anyone, he began to work in the kitchens of the prison, where he began to interact with other people.
Fearing the future
As he got to know more people, he gave way to having his educational potential assessed and was encouraged to enroll in the Open University. «The most difficult barrier was really inside me,» says the former convict, who at the time left school without completing his studies. «I was afraid of my future and decided to try,» he says.
He discovered that he loved learning
Stephen combined his work in the kitchen with his study at night, which he did in the bathroom so as not to disturb his cellmate while he slept. When he finished his first year, he decided to continue his training, as he discovered that he loved learning, even though other prisoners and guards told him that he was wasting his time and that his studies would be something in vain, because he had a criminal record.
After serving half of his sentence he was released. He had given him time to complete two more master’s level degrees and got a job interacting with students in the nation’s prisons.
It’s just a label
«Almost half of all prisoners have left school without any formal qualifications,» reveals Akpabio-Klementowski, urging others to follow in his footsteps and educate themselves, convinced that «everyone has the potential and power to change.
In response, the ex-convict recalls that several studies have shown that education minimizes the relapse of prisoners, because it allows them to make different choices.
«Is the main purpose of prison to punish or to help find a different path,» he asks.
He asserts that the word prisoner is just a label. «I found freedom within my own mind,» he says, insisting that everyone must remember that they have the ability to learn and change for the better.
Dr Stephen Akpabio-Klementowski was sentenced to 16 years for drug dealing. He turned his life around, earning three degrees in prison and then going on to gain his Phd after his release.