/ Should prisoners have the right to vote?

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The Lemming - on 22 Nov 2012
Who cares about female Bishops?

The real question is, should prisoners be given the right to vote?

And what implications are there if, they are denied that right to vote?

I belong firmly with the No camp.
Jackwd - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming: No, you committed a crime, you gave away your liberties, you knew the deal, you broke it. Simple.
Dauphin - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

yip. not sure why loss of liberty should equate to loss of right to partake in the democratic process - especially as the demographics of prisons would indicate that they have likely never voted. Apart from a few socio-paths most of them are there as a result of poverty / poor education.

D
The Lemming - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to Jackwd:

So you're happy to go against the EU and pay prisoners compensation when they seek legal redress?
Ramblin dave - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to Dauphin:
Generally agree with this. A friend of mine pointed out earlier that if you look at the issue rationally, it's kind of weird that either side is making such a big thing of this - we accept that when you get banged up you lose some rights but not others (lose your liberty and your freedom of association, keep freedom from torture, freedom of religion, access to healthcare etc), so it's kind of odd that this particular one is such a hot potato.

Oh, except that it gives politicians the chance to be seen to be tough on crime AND standing up to Meddling Eurocrats ...
gazhbo - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:

You don't lose your rights - none of them. Some are restricted in a way that is necessary, proportionate and reasonable. It is not necessary, proportionate or reasonable to stop you having a say in who runs the system that locked you up. We should be engaging people who have turned to crime, not alienating them further. Most people in prison come from a faction of society that, for whatever reason, refuses to take part. The more that can be done to remind them that they can contribute, the less reason there will be to lock them up in the first place. Everyone wins.

And before people get all wound up about rapists, murderers and paedaphiles having 'more rights' than them - just remember that not so long ago you could be locked up for having consensual gay sex.

Plus - who cares. No party is going to campaign to legalise rape or burglary or whatever. The vote will be split along roughly the same lines as every other demographic so it won't change anything.

stroppygob - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

No.
I like climbing - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:
No.
off-duty - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to gazhbo:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
>
> You don't lose your rights - none of them. Some are restricted in a way that is necessary, proportionate and reasonable. It is not necessary, proportionate or reasonable to stop you having a say in who runs the system that locked you up.
>

Seems a pretty reasonable and proportionate condition of incarceration to me.

> We should be engaging people who have turned to crime, not alienating them further.

That's a big vote in favour of rehabilitation. After they have been rehabilitated back into society (or at any rate released) they can get involved in society again - and vote.

>
>Most people in prison come from a faction of society that, for whatever reason, refuses to take part. The more that can be done to remind them that they can contribute, the less reason there will be to lock them up in the first place. Everyone wins.
>

Perhaps by reminding them that their refusal to accept the rules of a democratic society mean thathey lose their ability to determine those rules.

>
> And before people get all wound up about rapists, murderers and paedaphiles having 'more rights' than them - just remember that not so long ago you could be locked up for having consensual gay sex.
>

Not really sure of the relevance of this. Unless you think that paedophilia or rape should be legalised?

> Plus - who cares. No party is going to campaign to legalise rape or burglary or whatever. >The vote will be split along roughly the same lines as every other demographic so it won't >change anything.

If it's so unimportant then why do you suggest that prisoners should get the vote in the first place.

paul-1970 - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:
Ha ha, you know you've stepped into what's going to be a long thread when you read people quoting threads back to other people even before the reply has got to ten.

Yes, of course. Why not? What's the worse that could happen? A few (and I mean a few) prisoners partake a little of society and actually interact.

If you want the cynical cold economic argument: It will cost hardly anything to implement, yet it will cost the UK a great deal if we don't.
Padraig on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:
Wot Off-duty said!
Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I don't think it'll make prisoners feel less punished if they are able to vote, and it might do something towards rehabilitating them, so I don't see why they shouldn't vote, it could be a positive thing towards society as a whole. They're still being punished in a lot of ways by being kept in prison.

Surely it's something worth experiementating with to see if it helps in prisoner rehabilitation? If it helped in this would people be against prisoners voting?
Ramblin dave - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to off-duty:
> (In reply to gazhbo)


> If it's so unimportant then why do you suggest that prisoners should get the vote in the first place.

Because a court whose jurisdiction we've accepted says so, and because law isn't something you can just opt out of when it inconveniences you? I'm not sure how it looks for our global standing when we have to explain that international law is something that we only care about when it applies to someone we don't like...
birdie num num - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
If the British people took a democratic vote on this question and it came firmly down on the side of 'no', should the opinion of a human rights judge in Europe take precedent over the will of the people? Is the collective mind of the population more enlightened than the opinion of a few?
Jim C - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:
Is this not non issue, as I understand the requirement it is that not all prisoners should be denied the vote ( NOT that all prisoners should get to vote)

Simple, let prisoners on remand that have not yet been committed of a crime to still vote ( until some of them are committed of course)

You have met the criteria, so you are not in danger of paying compensation.

This whole thing is a distraction tactic, or anti Europe tirade.
Jim C - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Jim C:
I meant to say convicted , not committed
Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to birdie num num:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> If the British people took a democratic vote on this question and it came firmly down on the side of 'no', should the opinion of a human rights judge in Europe take precedent over the will of the people? Is the collective mind of the population more enlightened than the opinion of a few?

Sometimes it isn't, it can depend on what the many and the few are thinking. I'm not saying that because I think prisoners should vote, but because it can happen like that. Like in crowds being against a particular religion, or being homophobic or racist, for example. Not that i'm comparing prisoners voting to those three things.
Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Timmd:Or people saying prisoners shouldn't vote, that should be.
gazhbo - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to off-duty:


> (In reply to gazhbo)
> [...]
>
> Seems a pretty reasonable and proportionate condition of incarceration to me.

Necessary, proportionate and reasonable to the aim of preventing commission of further crimes and/or public protection. Restriction of the right to liberty is reasonable as certain people might need to be locked up to protect the public/stop a person committing offences. Restricting the right to vote isn't reasonable since nobody can pose a threat to anybody/commit crime by engaging legitimately in the democratic process. It isn't proportionate and it isn't reasonable. This isn't conjecture or legal rambling, it's well founded legal argument and the qualification of all but the absolute rights in the ECHR. It is the reason why depriving prisoners of the right to vote is unlawful according to conventions that the UK signed up to (and helped draft) 60 years ago.


> Not really sure of the relevance of this. Unless you think that paedophilia or rape should be legalised?

I didn't say anything like this. I don't think that gay sex can be equated with paedaphilia or rape, do you? I just pointed out that certain crimes may, at any given time, only be crimes because the government deems them to be. Allowing prisoners to vote is a small safe-guard against this sort of repression.
needvert on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to off-duty:

>> And before people get all wound up about rapists, murderers and paedaphiles having 'more rights' than them - just remember that not so long ago you could be locked up for having consensual gay sex.

> Not really sure of the relevance of this. Unless you think that paedophilia or rape should be legalised?

That strikes me as quite an underhanded method of argument.

His point is that history is rife with incarceration of large numbers of individuals who haven't really done much wrong[1]. Take Stalin's regime in the USSR, for example.

I don't see why prisoners should not have the ability to vote. If, in a democracy, they ever attain enough voting power to make a difference, then I suspect that is a difference that *should* be happening[2].

[1] In my opinion, at least.
[2] I believe the majority of the population is guilty of /something/. Even if it is just copyright infringement (which, it seems is becoming a more and more serious offence as time goes on, no matter how trivial we still consider it to be.)
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needvert on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to birdie num num:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> If the British people took a democratic vote on this question and it came firmly down on the side of 'no', should the opinion of a human rights judge in Europe take precedent over the will of the people? Is the collective mind of the population more enlightened than the opinion of a few?

This comes to mind:

"Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).
Ayn Rand"


Democracy, like all forms of government, certainly has it's own set of risks.
Ferret on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Jim C: as i understand it, that is the case already. Prisoners on remand can still vote. So sorry, no dice. That is why they are now talking about extending the right to vote to those on shorter sentences.

While I personally would not let a convict vote as I believe it is one of the 'freedoms' that is given up by breaking the laws of the society you live in, I also feel that we can't pick or choose our laws out of a grab bag of european stuff that we like and european stuff that we dont like. So as long as we accept the jurisdiction of the European court we should put up and shut up.

I wouldn't have allowed that European court authority over us in the frst place but thats another matter.....
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

Should we have the right to say stop wasting money discussing this subject?

E
Ben Sharp - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming: Seems a bit of a no brainer to me and just an excuse for politicians to cozy up to the public and puff themselves up in the face of Europe.

Remember the question isn't should all prisoners get the vote, the ECHR has issue only with Britain having a blanket ban on prisoners voting. Why anyone has a problem with someone serving 3 months for a traffic offence getting the vote is beyond me. Apparently the thought of any prisoner getting the vote makes our PM feel physically sick, so if someone goes to jail for a few weeks for graffiti and they vote during their stay our good old PM will be holed up in the bathroom wrenching his guts out. I do hope he doesn't have to deal with anything serious in the near future if his innards are so fragile.

If we don't want to give violent offenders and lifers the vote then that is acceptable to the ECHR so there's no need for the usual scaremongering of "those bloody EU bastards trying to give rapists the vote". Another of the many examples of our Sun reading society glancing at a headline and jumping to their own uninformed conclusions to make themselves feel better.

Ben

P.S. thought I'd be the first to mention a newspaper in a negative light, someone had to.
Ben Sharp - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ferret:
> While I personally would not let a convict vote as I believe it is one of the 'freedoms' that is given up by breaking the laws of the society you live in...

I take it you mean you believe that's how it should be in an ideal world. At the moment it's only tacitly given up, no judge sits there and says you're getting 6 years and you can't vote. If you really think that part of a criminals punishment should be cessation of democratic rights then surely it would be better to do it on an individual basis and not just a blanket ban. And obviously if you're going to do that it must apply to non-prison sentences as well. I take it you should give up your right to vote if you get a speeding ticket as well, given that you've broken the laws of the society you live in.
john arran - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

We're lucky in the UK in that we typically don't see large numbers of people incarcerated on purely political grounds so we equate incarceration with criminality independent of any real political effect. In this context the argument for denying the vote to prisoners has an intuitive sense to it. However, a tight election could conceivably come down to just a very few votes lost from people who were incarcerated as a result of a targeted political crackdown on crime in a certain section of society believed to vote in a particular way. I could imagine that a government campaign before an election to crack down on ghetto delinquency might have that effect; or maybe a directive to HMRC to concentrate on higher-value tax fraud may have an opposite effect. The examples aren't important but the principle is.

While we may not believe there is a significant risk of this in our 'civilised' society I would question why we should be leaving it up to the honesty of governments to keep it that way when maintaining the democratic right of prisoners would remove any possibility of government manipulation. Leaving aside the understandable impulse to further punish wrongdoers wouldn't it be better to fit the punishment to the crime, in terms of sentence type, sentence length or rehabilitation programmes, rather than to use a blunt tool that achieves nothing other than making the rest of us feel better but which means criminals have even less connection with responsible society?

I can't see any significant benefit in terms of crime deterrence or rehabilitation incentive so exactly what is achieved by removing the electoral rights of sane citizens?
Ferret on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp: You are over analysing a fairly simplistic position which many people hold (I suspect)

I tend to think there is a scale of punishments that is intended to act as some form of dissincentive (yeh yeh, prisons about rehabilitation not punishment... no, for me I don't commit crimes because I don't want punished) - if you commit a crime there are all sorts of consequences, loss of freedom, probably loss of job, loss of right to vote. Commit a lesser offence and the punishemnt is lesser. So no, i don't think getting a speeding ticket counts. I set the bar at 'serious enough for prison = serious enough to lose right to X, Y and Z including voting'.
birdie num num - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to needvert:
A good answer, however prisoners only join that minority following conviction, before which they may have had every right to vote on the issue.
Num Num doesn't really see it as a big deal, giving prisoners the vote might prompt those at liberty to do so but can't be arsed to get off their backsides on polling day. But I doubt it.
However instinct says to Num Num that once you have transgressed the laws of society to the extent that your liberty is taken away, then your liberty to influence that society should be removed for the extent of your imprisonment. This is entirely fair and reflects the human rights of honest law abiding folk that their vote should not be cancelled out by those who respect not the law or the rights of their fellow man.
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ben Sharp:

If I got a month inside for repeatedly spraying graffiti and my 4 weeks came at the time of a general election I'd kick myself and think tough shit.
(I wonder how many graffiti artists actually vote in general elections?)

Rather than spend money setting up polling stations or postal votes for prisoners I'd rather the prison authorities put an extra portion of porridge in my breakfast bowl.

I
Ferret on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to john arran: Kind of agree. I am aware that my stand of take away right to vote as part of 'punishment' does lead to the risk of a politically repressed sector of a society loosing ability to vote out their government. That may be relevant in some countries but probably isn't here. And if it were, I kind of suspect that if any government is locking people up for having the 'wrong' viewpoint or is targeting a specific sector of society to reduce the numbers of them out on the street and available to vote them out that whether one has the vote in prison or not is probably pretty irrelevant. Once a governemnt goes that far they wouldn't hesitate to play fast and loose with anything they want.

So I'm assuming that its unlikley it will happen in this country and if it did, I'm sure the right to vote would be instantly removed from prisoners or the voting slips of prisoners would 'disapear', or there would be a mysterious rash of 'lock downs' in prisons on the day of voting, with a Governemnet statement about 'unavoidable action requiring taken to avoid a riot' or some such.
dale1968 - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming: if we give them the right to vote why take there right to liberty? ermm.because they have been naughty and you lose rights and privileges that law abiding citizens get, thats what incarceration does denies you your freedoms and liberties, If want to vote, go to the pub, footie, climbing, don't beat up disabled people,it quite simple, and doon't blame your up bringing on the cause for your criminality, well I OFF out in the sunshine to enjoy my freedom, and I chose not to vote for a PCC........
AJM - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

As people have said, the echr only has an issue with a blanket ban, rather than demanding all prisoners have a vote.

I therefore find it difficult to see why the time limit can't be like 3 weeks or something - it would placate the echr, it wouldn't really impact any serious criminals and it also starts to seem disproportionate to deny someone a say in how the country is run for 5 years because their 3 weeks of incarceration just happens to fall over an election - obviously if they were released the day before election day they'd be able to vote, so it would seem a bit random for a short sentence like that to be subject to such a lottery as to whether you could vote or not.

But I get the feeling the government doesn't really want to seek a pragmatic solution (we are, whether we like it or not, subject to the echr judgement, it won't go away) and prefers the blanket ban and the chance to further complicate our relationship with Europe...
john arran - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to Ben Sharp)
>
> If I got a month inside for repeatedly spraying graffiti and my 4 weeks came at the time of a general election I'd kick myself and think tough shit.
> (I wonder how many graffiti artists actually vote in general elections?)
>
> Rather than spend money setting up polling stations or postal votes for prisoners I'd rather the prison authorities put an extra portion of porridge in my breakfast bowl.


And what if while inside you found out that the prisons were even more crowded than usual because some level of government had decided to use precisely that period for a crackdown of all 'street crime' in the hope that the few votes thereby not cast could give the incumbent politician an advantage?

I'm not saying that happens in the UK but it could and it is entirely preventable simply by acknowledging that it shouldn't be possible to influence the outcome of an election simply by locking up some particular criminals rather than others. The legal and judicial process should be as independent as possible of short-term political strategy, particularly where election outcomes are concerned.
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to john arran:
> (In reply to Enty)
> [...]
>
>
> And what if while inside you found out that the prisons were even more crowded than usual because some level of government had decided to use precisely that period for a crackdown of all 'street crime' in the hope that the few votes thereby not cast could give the incumbent politician an advantage?
>
>

Oh come on John. And the chances of that happening in the UK are..............

E
Al Evans on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Dauphin:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> yip. not sure why loss of liberty should equate to loss of right to partake in the democratic process - especially as the demographics of prisons would indicate that they have likely never voted. Apart from a few socio-paths most of them are there as a result of poverty / poor education.
>
> D

So does that follow then that poor/poorly educated people should not have the right to vote?
john arran - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to john arran)
> [...]
>
> Oh come on John. And the chances of that happening in the UK are..............

very small - I hope
significant - I suspect

Remember the Florida vote-counting shenanigans in 2000, where all sorts of legal and political interference was suspected to have been intended to influence the tight outcome? Is the UK really that different?
Remember the Birmingham postal-vote scandal after many years of successful elections relying largely on trust?
Neither is a direct analogy, I admit, but they show that it's hard to predict electoral manipulation in advance and just because there's no known history of something happening doesn't mean that some immoral politician (is that a tautology?) won't decide it's worth a punt if there's nothing actually in place to prevent it so unless there's a convincing reason for not doing so we would be well advised to be prepared.

All I'm saying is that there's a danger of sleepwalking into a situation of increased political manipulation of the electoral system and there's no convincing reason why the right to vote and the right to free movement in society should be linked. The European Court requirements will help us to prevent that happening as we seem incapable of putting measures into place to prevent it ourselves.

Having no say in electing to a 5-year term because of a 1-month sentence is a calendar lottery or potentially worse. I could see an argument for denying voting rights to those who will be incarcerated for the duration of the term of office being voted on, but even then I don't really see why the right to vote should be in any way related to the right to free movement.
Ramblin dave - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ferret:
> So no, i don't think getting a speeding ticket counts. I set the bar at 'serious enough for prison = serious enough to lose right to X, Y and Z including voting'.

Ben's point is bang on though - it's not "break the democratic society's laws, lose the right to influence the democratic process" but "break the democratic society's laws to a given degree of seriousness under certain circumstances, lose the right to influence the democratic process." Ie it does seem like a basically arbitrary position.

That's fair enough, but is presumably shouldn't make you "physically sick" if we were forced to adopt a slightly different arbitrary position (eg prisoners doing less than five years and not for any of offences X Y and Z can vote, or the decision of whether to remove the prisoner's right to vote is a part of the sentence), or make it seem worth basically flouting international law for the sake of (which, you'll remember, is something we're quite down on when it's someone we want to invade doing it...)
Ramblin dave - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to birdie num num:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> If the British people took a democratic vote on this question and it came firmly down on the side of 'no', should the opinion of a human rights judge in Europe take precedent over the will of the people? Is the collective mind of the population more enlightened than the opinion of a few?


Do you believe that we should be able to overturn high court rulings by democratic votes as well?
zebidee - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to birdie num num:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> If the British people took a democratic vote on this question and it came firmly down on the side of 'no', should the opinion of a human rights judge in Europe take precedent over the will of the people? Is the collective mind of the population more enlightened than the opinion of a few?

How about the death penalty?

If the British people took a democratic vote on this qustion and it came firmly down on the side 'yes', should the opinion of a human rights judge in Europe take precedent over the will of the people?

You see what I did there?

Sir Chasm - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to zebidee: Precedence, ffs. And, no.
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balmybaldwin - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I don't see why we don't just give them the vote..... but no polling stations - those that can get to a polling station can vote
Ferret on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to balmybaldwin: That might end up being more of them than we expected ;-)
Dave Garnett - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to birdie num num:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> If the British people took a democratic vote on this question and it came firmly down on the side of 'no', should the opinion of a human rights judge in Europe take precedent over the will of the people?

The will of a judge (whether in Europe or here) often takes priority over public opinion. If people democratically elect MPs, who then change the law, such judeges would have to come to a different decision.

In this case, our elected leaders freely signed an international convention committing us to obeying the judgments of the ECHR. If we don't want to abide by them we should withdraw from the convention.

What we can't do is pick and choose which judgments we obey and which we don't.
elsewhere on 23 Nov 2012
Withdrawing from the ECHR is an option but not a good option in my opinion.

I ***really*** hate the idea of prisoners and lawyers getting money because the politicians do not want the UK govt to obey the law and the courts.

The best option is to selectively give prisoners right the vote (eg during short sentences or during a period prior to release).

Dave Garnett - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to elsewhere:

I agree. We could satisfy the ECHR if we decided each case on its merits. I guess that means that as long as every sentence of imprisonment of more then 6 months (say) also includes a sentence of loss of voting rights when it's handed down, it might comply with the ruling.
Ciro - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

Why is there so much talk (and I mean everywhere, not this thread or forum) about the minimum we could do to comply to the ruling?

Surely human rights is an issue we should be proud to lead the way on, instead of being forced to comply with, like a sulking adolescent child who wants to do enough to avoid being grounded by his parents?
TheDrunkenBakers - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming: Nope, not one bit.

Screw the democratic arguments etc. As far as I an concerned the prisoner gave up their rights to play a part in society when they failed to care about the sociaety against which they committed the offence.

No ifs, buts or maybes, simply no.
Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ciro:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> Why is there so much talk (and I mean everywhere, not this thread or forum) about the minimum we could do to comply to the ruling?
>
> Surely human rights is an issue we should be proud to lead the way on, instead of being forced to comply with, like a sulking adolescent child who wants to do enough to avoid being grounded by his parents?

I agree.
Dave Garnett - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ciro:

Instinctively, I agree with you but I also think Lord Hoffmann has a point that 'huma rights' is being interpreted far more broadly than originally intended:

But Lord Hoffmann argues that Britain could withdraw from the jurisdiction of the Strasbourg court without abandoning the convention. The move would mean that British courts would become the arbiter of human rights law, removing the right of foreign judges to dictate the law to Britain.
He believes that with support of other European states which have also been at odds with the court, it may be possible to ‘repatriate our law of human rights’.

Lord Hoffmann’s intervention is particularly powerful given his close association with the human rights group Amnesty International. He was a director of the group’s charitable arm for many years.


I have a lot of respect for Hoffmann (he was by far the sharpest senior IP judge amongst some impressive company), so tend to take what he says seriously. He reckons that we might be able uncouple our recognition of the Human Rights Convention from being bound by the jurisdiction of the ECHR in Strasbourg. Not sure how that would work but I suspect he will have done his homework.
Chris Harris - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Dauphin:
> Apart from a few socio-paths most of them are there as a result of wilfully deciding to break the law .

Fixed that for you.


IainRUK - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming: firmly in yes camp
Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:
> (In reply to The Lemming) Nope, not one bit.
>
> Screw the democratic arguments etc. As far as I an concerned the prisoner gave up their rights to play a part in society when they failed to care about the sociaety against which they committed the offence.
>
> No ifs, buts or maybes, simply no.

What about the (when compared to the rest of the population) proportionally higher rates of illiteracy and mental health problems and histories of abuse as children amongst prisoners?

I knew of a lad who's probably about 16 or 18 now and he was sexually abused as a child and put into care, and some friends of mine adopted him, and he seemed okay untill he got introduced to cannabis by some school friends, and he started stealing things from his adoptive parents to sell and breaking into houses for things to sell to buy cannabis with, presumably because it gave him an escape from his demons.

He's now back with his family, living with his half brother who deals in drugs as far as I know. Would you quite happily say no ifs or buts to him, if he's ended up in jail through becoming more heavily involved in drugs?

Chris Harris - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Timmd:

I fail to see the use of childhood sexual abuse as constant justification for nicking stuff.
Ramblin dave - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:
> (In reply to The Lemming) Nope, not one bit.
>
> Screw the democratic arguments etc. As far as I an concerned the prisoner gave up their rights to play a part in society when they failed to care about the sociaety against which they committed the offence.
>
> No ifs, buts or maybes, simply no.

So that would include speeding tickets, then?
jkarran - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

Yes.

What are the implications when parliament votes 'no'? Christmas bonus time for a throng of eager lawyers followed by compensation payouts, dreadful tabloid headlines, recriminations, resignations, excuses and an embarrassing if limited climb-down over a 5 to 10 year timeframe would be my guess.

jk
Ramblin dave - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Chris Harris:
Childhood sexual abuse -> mental instability -> poor impulse control -> crime?
Or
Childhood sexual abuse -> depression -> drugs -> crime?

Or do you think anyone with mental health issues should "just pull themselves together"?
Chris Harris - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to TheDrunkenBakers)
> [...]
>
> So that would include speeding tickets, then?

He said "Prisoners". Not "Everyone convicted of an offence". How many people are in prison because of a speeding ticket?



Ramblin dave - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Chris Harris:
> (In reply to Ramblin dave)
> [...]
>
> He said "Prisoners". Not "Everyone convicted of an offence".

Oh, okay. So people who committed crimes with custodial sentences "gave up their rights to play a part in society when they failed to care about the society against which they committed the offence" but people who committed offences with non-custodial sentences didn't? Or is it that you can commit a crime with a non-custodial sentence while continuing to care about society, but not if it had a custodial sentence.

Could anyone actually justify this statement further beyond the fact that it rolls off the tongue easily? It feels like we're getting into the realms of truthiness...
Sir Chasm - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Timmd: Perhaps the kid likes cannabis, are you qualified to say he takes it to escape from his demons. If he merely likes it and steals to get it, is the abuse relevant?
Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Chris Harris:

Let me spell this out for you.

Sexual abuse to a child can equal mental healthy problems, finding out cannabis numbs the pain of these problems can lead to desperation to keep feeling numb/removed from them, which can lead to doing whatever is needed to get more money to keep feeling like this.

Just think about that for a bit...

Have you met damaged children (like this lad was/is) who've been sexually abused?

Or have you just decided being sexually abused as a child can't ever be a motivator (but not an excuse)?

Imagine how it might feel to be sexually assaulted (or raped I don't know what happened exactly) by another man as an adult, and what that would do to you, then imagine the effect it could have on a boy who's approx nine years old.
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Timmd on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Sir Chasm:
> (In reply to Timmd) Perhaps the kid likes cannabis, are you qualified to say he takes it to escape from his demons. If he merely likes it and steals to get it, is the abuse relevant?

I might well ask if you're qualified to doubt that it is relevent?

The link between mental health problems and drug abuse is a strong one.

What I do know is that he was always honest as a boy and teenager before he got into cannabis, with no character trait to do with stealing or lying.

I'm 'posted out' on this now, I don't have anything else to say.
Eric9Points - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I wonder how this would work?

Would prisoners be assumed to be constituents in the ward that the prison is situated in or would they be given postal votes.

If the former then they would comprise a substantial block vote in a few constituencies which could make a difference to the result in that seat. That would seem a bit strange to me and possibly other constituents who felt their choice of candidate had been denied to them by a large vote for the opposition from a bunch of crooks.

I'm not sure this is really a fundamental human rights issue at all. Judges are taking a point of view which in my view is no more or less political than those of the politicians who oppose them.

I think I plump for a "no". Sometimes when judges are wrong it's necessary to stand up to them. Ultimately there's nothing they can do about it.
Sir Chasm - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Timmd: You seem to be making assumptions; that the abuse caused mental health problems, that the mental health problems caused the cannabis use (teenage boys being well known for not smoking dope), that the mental health problems you've assumed also led to stealing and lying.
tom_in_edinburgh - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

If they are given the vote then there would be a problem in constituencies with a big prison. Prisoners would be a significant part of the electorate which would distort local politics.

Maybe there should be a special non-geographic constituencies for prisons electing MPs to represent prisoner's interests in parliament. If a prison constituency had many more voters than a normal geographic one then prisoner's votes would count for less than normal citizens votes but would not be lost altogether.
Ciro - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Timmd:

Unfortunately, your explanations require a certain capacity for empathy from the reader.
dissonance - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Maybe there should be a special non-geographic constituencies for prisons electing MPs to represent prisoner's interests in parliament.

or it could just be a postal vote in the area they came from.
The blanket ban seems strange to me. Possibly for those serving long sentences but those who are short sentence or coming up to release, surely allowing engagement in the democratic process is part of rehabilitation.
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I'd be interested to know how many of the inmates in Strangeways (who weren't locked up at the time) actually voted at the last election.

E
TheDrunkenBakers - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Chris Harris)
> [...]
>
> Oh, okay. So people who committed crimes with custodial sentences "gave up their rights to play a part in society when they failed to care about the society against which they committed the offence" but people who committed offences with non-custodial sentences didn't? Or is it that you can commit a crime with a non-custodial sentence while continuing to care about society, but not if it had a custodial sentence.
>
> Could anyone actually justify this statement further beyond the fact that it rolls off the tongue easily? It feels like we're getting into the realms of truthiness...

OK, so lets read the thread title again and my previous contribution and both were levelled at the prison population, not those in non-custodial sentences.

In the prison sense, The Crown deemed it necessary, based on the severity or recurrence of the incidence that the person should have his/her liberty or freedom taken from them. These criminals have had their rights removed from them and so offering them the chance to participate gives them back freedoms which IMO were sacrificed. When they are freed, then they will have the opportunity to once again participate.

Conversely, those with non-custidial sentenced were not deemed to have commited a crime serious enough to be jailed and therefore their freedoms have not been withdrawn.

Mitigating circumstances or not for the factor culminating in someone going off the rails, I firmly believe that if you are locked up, you have forfeited your rights.


daveyji - on 23 Nov 2012
Do the crime, do the time, lose right to vote. Simple.

It's all this bleeding heart crap that has got us in a situation whereby one of the worlds most dangerous terrorists not only walks the streets but is given protection so he can do it. Simultaneously a hero by any standards who fought said terrorists organisation is banged up because of a crime with seriously mitigating circumstances.
birdie num num - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to birdie num num)
> [...]
>
>
> Do you believe that we should be able to overturn high court rulings by democratic votes as well?

Certain rulings yes. Why not?
Duncan Bourne - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to daveyji:
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter
Philip on 23 Nov 2012
How is this handled in every other EU country. Do none of them have bans that exclude voting on anything other than an individually decided basis?
john arran - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Philip:
> How is this handled in every other EU country. Do none of them have bans that exclude voting on anything other than an individually decided basis?

I don't know about EU countries but I've been involved with elections in many other countries and the right to vote is widely considered a fundamental right of citizenship. You don't give up your citizenship when incarcerated so you still have a vote. It's quite simple really. It's only when people start looking at voting as a privilege rather than a basic right of citizenship that it even starts to look like a problem.
Ciro - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to john arran:

In australia I seem to remember it's not even considered as a basic right, it's considered as a civic duty... it's a legal requirement that you cast a vote.
off-duty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to gazhbo:
> (In reply to off-duty)
>
>
> [...]
>
> Necessary, proportionate and reasonable to the aim of preventing commission of further crimes and/or public protection. Restriction of the right to liberty is reasonable as certain people might need to be locked up to protect the public/stop a person committing offences. Restricting the right to vote isn't reasonable since nobody can pose a threat to anybody/commit crime by engaging legitimately in the democratic process. It isn't proportionate and it isn't reasonable. This isn't conjecture or legal rambling, it's well founded legal argument and the qualiftion of all but the absolute rights in the ECHR. It is the reason why depriving prisoners of the right to vote is unlawful according to conventions that the UK signed up to (and helped draft) 60 years ago.
>

Unfortunately that "summary" of the position manages to misquote, misinterpret and misunderstand both the human rights act itself and the reason for the human rights judgement in the Hirst case which started this off in the first place. As such I am afraid it does appear to be "conjecture and (pseudo) legal rambling".


>
> I didn't say anything like this. I don't think that gay sex can be equated with paedaphilia or rape, do you? I just pointed out that certain crimes may, at any given time, only be crimes because the government deems them to be. Allowing prisoners to vote is a small safe-guard against this sort of repression.

Well, you might have had the intention of demonstrating that certain crimes are only crimes because the government deems them to be - you just happened to pick the most inappropriate crimes to illustrate that point.
Philip on 23 Nov 2012
Reading this thread, there are a few people backing a ban that excludes short term prisoners. Are these people aware that a policy such as that would also fail to satisfy the ECHR? The 3 options in that draft bill, none/6months/5years are all "blanket bans" because they cover a discriminate on anything other than individual basis.
Philip on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Ciro:
> (In reply to john arran)
>
> In australia I seem to remember it's not even considered as a basic right, it's considered as a civic duty... it's a legal requirement that you cast a vote.

Where are prisoners votes cast, in the constituency of last address or where the prison is located?

Presumably the right to vote would go all the way to parish level. You could have a small parish with a prison where prisoners votes could have a strong influence even though parish council (and even district and borough councils) have no authority over anything that affects the prisoners while in the prison.

Personally, I favour no right to vote for prisoners but more because I think we have a poor electoral system at the moment without more possibility of results being skewed. However I also think our penal system needs to change so that prisons serve two functions, a period of punishment proportional to the crime followed by a period of rehabilitation and reintegration proportional with the need. During the second stage regaining the right to vote would seem fair.
off-duty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Timmd:

Without going into the detail, the story you mention appears to be more about the fact you don't believe that your friend should end up in jail due to the circumstances of his life, rather than an argument that prison shouldn't include disenfranchisement.

Ciro - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Philip:
> (In reply to Ciro)
> [...]
>
> Where are prisoners votes cast, in the constituency of last address or where the prison is located?
>
> Presumably the right to vote would go all the way to parish level. You could have a small parish with a prison where prisoners votes could have a strong influence even though parish council (and even district and borough councils) have no authority over anything that affects the prisoners while in the prison.

I think it's only in the federal elections, and to be fair I've no idea if it applies to prisoners.
>
> Personally, I favour no right to vote for prisoners but more because I think we have a poor electoral system at the moment without more possibility of results being skewed.

Why would giving prisoners a postal vote tied to their place of residence on the electoral register prior to incarceration skew anything?

> However I also think our penal system needs to change so that prisons serve two functions, a period of punishment proportional to the crime followed by a period of rehabilitation and reintegration proportional with the need. During the second stage regaining the right to vote would seem fair.

Seems to me like the first stage (punishment) will likely alienate the offender further from society, making the second stage (rehabilitation) harder. If we want to re-habilitate offenders, why make it harder (hence more prolonged and therefore more expensive) than we need to?

Jacob Ram - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I would imagine 95% of people in prison could not give a flying about voting anyway.
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Steve Perry - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Dauphin:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> Apart from a few socio-paths most of them are there as a result of poverty / poor education.
>
That old chestnut. Are you sure they're not there because they broke the law?
Poverty is a shanty town in Africa or some of the run down areas in say India or the like, I've seen nowhere that bad in Britain, not even close. They may be living in run down areas but not in poverty. As for education evenly the poorly educated still no the difference between right and wrong.


The Lemming - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I may have a re-think about this subject.

Murderer's - no

People who don't pay their TV License - ? (Possibly yes)


I tried to find a non payment of TV license but found this.
http://www.thedetail.tv/issues/51/finedefaulters/thousands-imprisoned-every-year-for-minor-crimes
Enty - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to David Best:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> I would imagine 95% of people in prison could not give a flying about voting anyway.

That was my point higher up the thread. What a waste of time and money all this is.

E
Simon4 - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to David Best:

> I imagine 95% of people in prison could not give a flying about voting anyway.

They will however certainly be concerned about possible compensation, especially as they will not be paying their own legal fees.
Jacob Ram - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Simon4: Quite possibly.
Philip on 23 Nov 2012
From Wikipedia, it seems only us and the US ban crims. France and Germany only do it for crimes involving the electoral system. Canada did but had to change.
Hooo - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:
They should have let prisoners vote in the PCC elections, then there might have been something approaching a reasonable turnout.
3leggeddog on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

I am rather cynical about the motivation behind all the media coverage/political maileage this is given. I share John Arran's concerns about using short term incarceration to manipulate elections.

I also wonder whether the government secretly want this to go ahead as it will; give them another stick to bash the EU with whilst ensuring an increased turn out in elections.

If the consequences of prisoners voting means that more of the population actually vote (I'm talking about released offenders repeating voting after they started in prison) is it really a bad thing?

My guess is that given the opportunity to vote, most prisoners would do so, it is something to do to break the boredom. Prisoners have a lot of time on their hands to study manifestos, think, discuss. With that many voters as a captive audience I can imagine jails holding hustings. Given all this prisoners could actually make better informed decisions on choice of candidate than your average voter.
Simon4 - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to 3leggeddog:

> If the consequences of prisoners voting means that more of the population actually vote (I'm talking about released offenders repeating voting after they started in prison) is it really a bad thing?

Yes.

There is no virtue whatever in just increasing the % voting, when the decision is so casual that no thought whatever has gone into the appropriate way to vote, it dilutes the votes of those who bother to make an effort and hopefully think about things a bit more. Low turnout is a symptom of political decay, not the cause and simply artificially increasing the % by this sort of manipulation is worse than useless. There are plenty of problems with our democracy, but none to which the solution is dragooning the reluctant or uninterested to vote, or to allowing convicted prisoners to do so.

Graeme Alderson on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to Eric9Points:
> Would prisoners be assumed to be constituents in the ward that the prison is situated in or would they be given postal votes.

Presumably it would work in the same way as people who work away from home eg oil rig workers who would vote in their home constituency rather thatn say Aberdeen.

I'm a yes, partly because custodial sentences are a bit arbitary, 2 people could commit the same crime and 1 could get a custodial sentence and the other 1 could retain their liberty.

But if you remove the right to vote imagine the potential law suits from those wrongly convicted

Trangia - on 23 Nov 2012
In reply to The Lemming:

No

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