Sensible decision from European Court on prisoner voting rights

The BBC reports:

The European Court of Human Rights has said individual governments can decide how to implement a ban on convicted prisoners voting.

The judgement means the UK will be able to decide for itself how to resolve the long-standing row over votes for prisoners.

But the court says the UK only has six months to outline its proposed reforms…

In a summary of its judgement, the court said it “accepted the [UK] Government’s argument that each State has a wide discretion as to how it regulates the ban, both as regards the types of offence that should result in the loss of the vote and as to whether disenfranchisement should be ordered by a judge in an individual case or should result from general application of a law.”

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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9 Comments

  • Peter Hutton 23rd May '12 - 8:23am

    If in remand, then a suspect is still presumed innocent so should have the right to vote. If convicted then I am afraid for the duration of the sentence that right (as with the right to free association with the public) should be removed. This this does not exclude their right or opportunity to participate in political discourse; just the right to vote in elections, referenda and the like. On release, the former prisoner’s rights will be reinstated.

  • If prisoners don’t have the right to vote then you tempt governments to criminalise dissent.

  • Richard Shaw 23rd May '12 - 1:43pm

    I believe any prisoner should be able to vote for any body during whose term they will be released. E.g. Those with fewer than 5 years remaining should be allowed to vote in General Elections, between 1 to 4 years remaining in the case of local authorities (the time remaining depending on the type of local authority).

    Prisoners should have a say in the running of the society into which they will be released and it is wrong to treat all prisoners the same regardless of crime or length of sentence. The punishment is the length of time incarcerated and/or severity of the fine, not how many elections they miss. Denying all prisoners the vote serves no purpose in terms of punishment or deterrence other than to make the general populace feel better about themselves.

    Prisoners are people too and are just a capable of taking part in democracy as non-prisoners. Plus by denying them the vote you deny them a legitimate route to raise grievances and concerns regarding their or their families’ treatment, like any other citizen leaving them to resort to such things as riots or hunger strikes.

  • Richard Dean 23rd May '12 - 1:49pm

    Denying prisoners the vote also further alienates them from society. But if we want to address repeat offending, we should be trying to do the very opposite.

  • Andrew Suffield 24th May '12 - 8:32am

    I’m continually impressed by the way the Tories manage to evade the simple and obvious solution: removal of the right to vote should be something ordered by a judge, with a sentencing guideline that it should normally be applied to all people who are sent to prison.

    That means judges have the power to make exceptions where they are appropriate, and people who are sentenced have the right to appeal their conviction if they can come up with a credible reason why they should not have the right to vote removed.

    No fuss, no problem. The system would be more fair, the right of prisoners to due process would be protected, and almost no prisoners would vote.

  • Mr AC Trussell 24th May '12 - 9:54am

    When will the Tories realise that most people that end-up in prison couldn’t care less about voting!
    Putting a cross on a postal vote is not an orgasmic experience, that they will be denying someone!
    Taking away this ten second paticipation with the human race, simply stops them giving any thought about their own and everyone else’s future!
    Thinking about the way they would like the future to be, could be benificial in rejoining society.
    It is the thought that they (mainly Conservatives) are inflicting some kind of pain, plus their lack of understanding of a lot of people’s veiws on life that makes them rather self centered and Tories!

  • Margaret Rutter 24th May '12 - 2:57pm

    Rights to vote is given to you so you have a say about how you would like our country governed. I feel this right should never be taken away from a person as it is our birth right and comes into effect when we reach the age that is considered right.

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