Monday, October 10, 2005

Votes for Prisoners

Oh dear, I seem to be having one of those right-wing moments. But I am really the only Lib Dem who doesn't want to give prisoners the vote? Mark Oaten says:

"The Liberal Democrats have a longstanding commitment to lift the ban on prisoners voting. Today's ruling is not just about rights. It is about ensuring that prisoners return to their communities as responsible citizens. Telling offenders that they have no part to play in our democracy is no way to end the cycle of crime."

Is there evidence from other countries that giving prisoners the vote reduces the rate of re-offending? If so, why aren't we publicising this more? If not, can we make this about 999th on our list of priorities?

Incidentally, if this policy came in, it would make one of the ulfra-safe Tory council seats in our district rather more open , as we have Bullwood Hall young women's prison in Hockley! Would make canvassing quite interesting...

However the only good aspect of this policy is that if it had been introduced 30 years ago, it might have provided the background for a really good episode of Porridge. Fletcher - surely Labour. Godber - Liberal? Barraclough - Tory? Mackay - surely Tory too, or could he have been closet SNP?


James said...

I would be surprised if it wasn't 999th on our list of priorities. The point is though that as a party we support universal human rights, as a country we support universal human rights, and when a human rights court tells us, after weighing up the issues, that prisoners have the right to the vote, we should respect that.

Russell said...

Yeah, it is about 999th in the list of priorites - the media has a tendency to get excited about very obscure bits of Lib Dem policy discussion.

Personally I'm not overly enthused about it myself - I expect the government will come to compromise whereby prisoners with lesser offences get the vote, which is fine by me.

GaffaUK said...

I don't mind prisoner being able to vote. However I find it strange that prisoners usually don't serve the full sentence they have been given. This doesn't fill the public (particularly victims of crime)with confidence in our justice system.

Valerie said...

I'm in favour of prisoners having the vote. I think it's an important symbolic safeguard against the rise of a totalitarian society, however remote that prospect may be. You should always retain your right to throw out the government.

Like Gaffauk, I think it's a scandal that sentences aren't fully served, though.

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