Pascal Kakuru – The Law Graduate
“If you let yourself accept where you are, that is the end”
At the time of writing, Pascal is 36 years old. He was originally condemned to death in 2007. However, as a result of a change in the law allowing for mitigation, he is now serving an 18 year sentence. He will now be released in 2019.
Pascal is an intelligent, highly articulate and very warm individual. He talks with passion, especially when discussing the legal education programme he has been part of, and the future plans of the project.
He also speaks with conviction about the justice system, his studies and the law. However, when he speaks of his children, his face lights up. Before prison he was a father, a husband and a provider. Whilst he has had that role taken from him for the past decade, there is now a deadline to his life in prison, and in a few years he will be able to start making up for lost time with his family, and most importantly his four children.
‘If you see the bars, the walls... if you let yourself accept where you are, that is the end. If you asked me how I survived in prison, I don’t know, God knows.’
Before coming to prison, Pascal worked for the police force. This gives him the unique insight of having seen the justice system from both sides. Pascal talks of the issues in the system, and how if they are to significantly change it needs to be a collaborative effort – the police, the courts, attorneys and the prisons. His desire to see things change and be a part of that process is clear, although so is the frustration over his limitations to affect policy or protocol whilst in prison.
Pascal talks of how he did not lose hope on death row, although some around him were. He began his Common Law diploma in 2011, completing it in 2013. Then in 2013 he began his law degree [LLB]. He graduated in 2018. Pascal derives great pleasure from being able to support his colleagues in prison, and knowing that he has helped someone access fairer justice or a better understanding of their rights, evidently feeds his soul. He speaks of how many people are in the dark on their rights, and do not understand how bail can be attained, whether they qualify for it or not, or what mitigating factors even are.
Pascal’s frustration lies in the everyday reality that most people don’t know their rights. That being said, he believes, even when they do know their rights the system can still overpower them, particularly if they are poor.
With his release from prison, Pascal hopes to work as a defender, ‘I don’t think I could work sending people to prison’, he states smiling. He plans to work on Human Rights advocacy, and he also has a significant interest in women’s rights, believing that the concept of ownership of women is outdated and damaging.
Pascal is an active Christian, and takes the role of a preacher in prison. He also studies the Bible and encourages others in doing the same. In his free time Pascal likes to read inspirational books, do private study and listen to gospel music. He is also a keen Arsenal fan.