Government loses final appeal over votes for prisoners

The Press Association reports:

The Government has lost its final appeal against a human rights ruling requiring Britain to give prisoners the vote.

Prime Minister David Cameron – who said the thought of granting the vote to criminals made him physically ill – now has six months to produce “legislative proposals” ending the current blanket ban on inmates voting in national and European elections.

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11 Comments

  • When the ECtHR was set up, were votes for prisoners on their mind? I sincerely doubt it. Democratic politicians need to be restrained but so do activist judges.

  • We need to look closely at the ruling of the court – are we in breach because the sentence of imprisonment doesnt also state explicitly that part of the punishment is to have the right to vote removed?

    We also need to remember that the aim is not just to punish a person for what they have done wrong but also to try and rehabilitate them back into society in the hope that they will not reoffend so in certain cases the ability to vote might aid in this respect.

  • Surely a more basic question is, “what purpose does removing their right to vote serve?”

    The removal of any human right, purely for punitive reasons is a dangerous precedent to set.

  • Andrew Suffield 13th Apr '11 - 7:42am

    When the ECtHR was set up, were votes for prisoners on their mind?

    The court has no business dealing with things that had already been thought of when it was set up – that’s the job of a regular court. The whole point of the court is to deal with new things that don’t have existing legislation.

    We need to look closely at the ruling of the court – are we in breach because the sentence of imprisonment doesnt also state explicitly that part of the punishment is to have the right to vote removed?

    Roughly, yes. In fact it’s even more specific: the violation is mostly because there has been no consideration whatsoever about whether removing the right to vote is an appropriate punishment for a given crime or individual, it’s just been applied to them all in a blanket manner.

    This decision can and should be made by the sentencing judge.

  • Good, MPs should have a responsibility to the prison population to deliver an effective and proportionate punishment. Otherwise our penal policy ends up getting written by the Daily Mail and implemented without the inmate rehabilitation in mind at all. Of course there will be scares about paedophiles and murderers voting, but the vast vast majority of the prison population are not paedophiles or murderers.

  • Calooh Callay

  • “Otherwise our penal policy ends up getting written by the Daily Mail.”

    Because, of course, it was the Daily Mail that was responsible for society’s decision to remove the vote from prisoners hundreds of years ago? And the Daily Mail is somehow responsible for the 60-70% (depending on the poll) of UK citizens who want the ban to remain?

    Could we perhaps introduce an updated version of Godwin’s Law, call it Pimkie’s Law, covering the lazy idea that any idea likely to be espoused by the Daily Mail is automatically worthy of condemnation? Pimkie’s Law: “As an online discussion on LibDem Voice grows longer, the probability of some t*sser making a comparison involving the Daily Mail approaches 100%”

    As with Godwin’s Law and mention of the Nazis, other commenters on the thread would of course automatically ignore anyone who was so crass as to make the Daily Mail comparison.

  • Good news, lets hope now we can do the right thing and restore the vote to most if not all prisioners.

  • I really find it difficult to understand why the British find it so difficult to accept the rulings of the ECHR. The ECHR was set up largely at Britain’s initiative.

  • >Prime Minister David Cameron – who said the thought of granting the vote to criminals made him physically ill

    >the 60-70% (depending on the poll) of UK citizens who want the ban to remain?

    The human instinct for altruistic retribution (‘altruistic’ in the sense of wanting to punish people who’ve done you no personal harm) is certainly a strong one.
    Politicians and parties round the world know that ‘tough on crime’ is a sure-fire vote-winner.
    How often it actually CUTS crime, of course…

    Anything more thoughtful about justice and punishment and avoiding recidivism etc is seen as being ‘soft’ on criminals.

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