During the celebration of the 175th Anniversary Service of Thanksgiving at HMP Pentonville, Dr Aresti was invited to deliver a testimonial about his own experience of Pentonville as an ex-convict and to share how the institution contributed to his life journey. He said: “In 1997, I was convicted of a drug related crime and was sent to HMP Pentonville where I spent the first eight months of my sentence. Whilst of course generally speaking prisons can be quite negative environments, my experience of Pentonville, in many ways was positive.”
In his speech, Andreas recognised the transformational potential of Higher Education in prisons and explained how education can change lives: “Like many before me, I endured the ‘pains of imprisonment’ however, I went into prison with a goal, to study and use education as a pathway out of the destructive lifestyle I was living.”
Dr Aresti also touched on the ongoing the ‘Making Links’ programme he has been running with Dr Sacha Darke since 2016. The project, in collaboration with Jose Aguiar, Education Consultant at HMP Pentonville, enables Westminster students (outside learners) to go and study once a week in the prison library with 10 students from HMP Pentonville (inside learners).
He said: “I returned to Pentonville back in 2016 as an educator and started running the ‘Making Links’ project in the prison library along with my colleague Dr Sacha Darke and Pentonville educator Jose Aguiar. This is a collaborative project between The University of Westminster and HMP Pentonville. In essence, we run a ten week criminology module. Here, outside learners and inside learners actively engage in lectures, seminars and workshops.”