Sunday, 7 November 2010

Prison voting

Should prisoners vote? This was one of the questions on Question Time and Shami Chakrabarti thought that the role of prison was purely to protect society. She must have forgotten that prisons also punish and rehabilitate. One member of the audience felt that rehabilitation should mean that prisoners may vote. The role of punishment should mean that prisoners may not.

For me there are so few people who bother voting that any method of putting voting on a pedestal should be applauded - and that means saying that voting is precious and you lose the right to vote when you become a prisoner.

Jack Straw explained that some prisoners have not lost the right to vote, but they have lost their liberty, but if the right to vote were given to all prisoners then this may have a distorting effect particularly on local elections that happen to have a prison in its ward or division. I am not quite sure how distortion may occur. Are all prisoners likely to support Labour? If they support your party then having them in one area is not such a bad thing. Jack must think that prsioners are generally not Labour supporters.

One aspect of standing for election is that you should be able to communicate with your electorate. Is this possible in prison? Would I be allowed to visit prisons on the basis that I am a candidate? On this purely practical point, surely the logistics would mean that it is not possible to knock on their doors.

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