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Voting Rights for prisoners

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.

Voting rights for prisoners

Prisoners should be allowed to vote in general elections
10
24%
Some prisoners should be allowed to vote in general elections
4
10%
No prisoners should be allowed to vote in general elections
6
15%
Don't know/other
1
2%
The UK should comply with the ruling of European Court of Human Rights
11
27%
The UK should challenge the jurisdiction of European Court of Human Rights
7
17%
Don't know/other
2
5%
 
Total votes: 41

Message
Author
Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Voting Rights for prisoners

#1 Post by Nick » January 20th, 2011, 5:42 pm

I would be very interested to hear what other TH'ers think about votes for prisoners. I can see both sides of the argument: on the one hand, if you are subject to law, then you should also be part of the democracy which creates it. On the other, an imprisonable offence warrants deprivation of the right to vote, as well as deprivation of liberty, especially if the sentence being served is lengthy.

For myself, I think it is a symbol of faith in the strength of democacy to allow prisoners to vote. I would certainly not be rushing to deprive them of that 'right'. So on balance, I am comfortable with the government's response to the European Court's decision (though I can't see how it complies with it.... :shrug:)

However, I am exercised by the challenge launched by Jack Straw and David Davies against the European Court of Human Rights. They say, effectively, that the Court, set up to judge on torture and war crimes, etc., has exceeded its intended remit under the original treaty. For myself, I think the UK is a big enough kid to make up such rules as it thinks fit, and agree with Davies and Straw that it is none of the Court's business in this instance. If I were an MP, I would be seriously considering supporting their objections, even though I am not unhappy with the result of the Court's ruling in this instance, and even though it is likely to result in blood on the carpet.

In the poll above, you have 2 votes, so do express a view on both points. :)

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Alan C.
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#2 Post by Alan C. » January 20th, 2011, 6:20 pm

I voted no, I think if you've committed a prisonable offence you should lose all privileges, that includes TV's, pool tables, use of gymnasiums etc, etc. :twisted:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Dave B
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#3 Post by Dave B » January 20th, 2011, 6:57 pm

I voted "some". If you have committed a minor crime, non-violent, not directly affecting a specific person or group (OK, even defaulting on a TV licence fine actually affects us all but . . .) and carrying a short sentence, it's a "slap on the wrist - can't see that it is reasonable to deny that person a vote.

If it is the case of a long term violent criminal with little chance of being "socialised" in the everyday sense or has committed a crime that has cost society, as a whole, a great deal then I believe that such should forfeit any franchise.

I will admit to going with my gut in this but it would take a lot to change my feelings.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Val
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#4 Post by Val » January 20th, 2011, 7:06 pm

Alan C. wrote:I voted no, I think if you've committed a prisonable offence you should lose all privileges, that includes TV's, pool tables, use of gymnasiums etc, etc. :twisted:
Alan, because the prisoners vastly outnumber the officers any prison is only ever run with the consent of the prisoners. If no priviledges were allowed then there would be no sanctions to be applied for bad behaviour. How would we ensure compliance then?

Nick
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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#5 Post by Nick » January 20th, 2011, 7:28 pm

You will see that the percentages don't really make sense, as I've asked 2 questions rather than 1, but I reckon TH'ers are smart enough to cope with that anomoly. :D
Alan C. wrote:I voted no, I think if you've committed a prisonable offence you should lose all privileges, that includes TV's, pool tables, use of gymnasiums etc, etc. :twisted:
Do you have a view on the European question, Alan?

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Alan C.
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#6 Post by Alan C. » January 20th, 2011, 7:38 pm

Val
If no privileges were allowed then there would be no sanctions to be applied for bad behaviour. How would we ensure compliance then?
The only sanctions needed (IMHO) would be an extension to the sentence for bad behaviour and no extension for good behaviour, simple.

Prisoners have it cushy, a warm dry place to sleep, three good meals a day, TV with no licence fee, no money worries etc. Unlike a lot of folk who have never committed a crime in their life and it irks me.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Nick
Posts: 11027
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am

Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#7 Post by Nick » January 20th, 2011, 7:47 pm

Alan C. wrote:
Val
If no privileges were allowed then there would be no sanctions to be applied for bad behaviour. How would we ensure compliance then?
The only sanctions needed (IMHO) would be an extension to the sentence for bad behaviour and no extension for good behaviour, simple.
This would result in a change of the length of sentences given by judges. And the current system is much better psychologically. A prisoner will (generally) want parole. To extend the sentence would IMO be quite likely to cause riots, if done "at the whim" of the parole board. More importantly, because the deprivation of liberty is being extended, a further trial, with all the costs involved, would be required to establish guilt.
Prisoners have it cushy, a warm dry place to sleep, three good meals a day, TV with no licence fee, no money worries etc. Unlike a lot of folk who have never committed a crime in their life and it irks me.
So we gather... :)

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Dave B
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#8 Post by Dave B » January 20th, 2011, 8:41 pm

Prisoners have it cushy, a warm dry place to sleep, three good meals a day, TV with no licence fee, no money worries etc. Unlike a lot of folk who have never committed a crime in their life and it irks me.
Just like "Porridge" eh.Alan?

I seem to have heard tales of scams, cons, beatings, rapes etc. as well - one's fellow inmates are often far more of a danger than the screws it seems. Must be nice not to be able to just go out and sit in the sun with a glass of cold Chablis on a warm summer's evening, pop down the pub for a chat and a pint, watch your soccer team from the stands - or any one of a thousand things we may take for granted.

But I would still deny them the vote!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

Fia
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Joined: July 6th, 2007, 8:29 pm

Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#9 Post by Fia » January 20th, 2011, 9:30 pm

Well, firstly I think we should always comply with the European Court of Human Rights. There's not a lot of point in having one if member states say "We understand what you say, because we support Human Rights, but we're not going to comply as it's too delicate to sell to the voters". One is a signatory, or one isn't.

However, I do think we have a huge problem with our large prison population. I've been trying, but failed to find a reference, but I am under the impression that a very large percentage of female prisoners in the UK are there due to debt or financial irregularity related to being poor. These women should not be in prison, IMHO. They will not learn financial acuity by being locked up learning better ways to squeeze money out of none. They need help, education, skills, and support to become functioning members of society. I'm sure much the same can be said for many of the male prisoners too. Once we actually just have the folk in prison who deserve a custodial sentence for their more heinous crimes, for our protection and their punishment and rehabilitation, then we can enter a debate about whether their right to democracy being removed is against Human Rights principles.

Prospective parliamentarians doing hustings in a prison? The Daily Mail would explode with indignation... hmm, perhaps a good idea then :laughter:

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Alan C.
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#10 Post by Alan C. » January 20th, 2011, 9:38 pm

To extend the sentence would IMO be quite likely to cause riots, if done "at the whim" of the parole board.
Appeasement never achieves anything.
me
it irks me.
So we gather... :)
:moon:

How many folk will be sleeping in cardboard box', shop doorways tonight?
While the over privileged neds are costing us (2008 figures)
In the UK it is estimated that each new prison place costs £119,000 and that the annual average cost for each prisoner exceeds £40,000.

from here

Cross posting with Fia.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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animist
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#11 Post by animist » January 20th, 2011, 11:04 pm

many of the replies seem to be putting the vote on a par with personal privileges like TV etc. But surely there is a rational incentive for the governance system to make the population, including offenders, take an active interest in how the country is governed, and withdrawing the vote from convicts is a strange way to foster any sense of social involvement and responsibility; I imagine most prisoners would just shrug and say "what the f-k " if told they had lost this "privilege". So I would say "yes" to the vote, and I am not sure how, in Dave's scenario, one would draw the line between serious and trivial offences. One the other issue, I think we should stick with international opinion if at all possible - the issue of the vote for prisoners is hardly a huge issue on which to rock the boat.

Lord Muck oGentry
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#12 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » January 21st, 2011, 12:13 am

My starting-point would be that we need reasons to deprive mentally competent adults of the right to vote. I've never been able to see why even the vilest criminals shoud be deprived of it. Lunatics and Peers of the Realm ( as the old gag has it), certainly. But criminals, no.

As for the ECHR, there is this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_C ... man_Rights
The Convention is drafted in broad terms, in a similar (albeit more modern) manner to the English Bill of Rights, the American Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man or the first part of the German Basic law. Statements of principle are, from a legal point of view, not determinative and require extensive "interpretation" by courts to bring out meaning in particular factual situations.
Well, bugger it, the UK didn't just sign it. It helped to draft it and got other parties to sign it. It seems singularly graceless to complain now that we don't like how it turned out.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

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jaywhat
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Joined: July 5th, 2007, 5:53 pm

Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#13 Post by jaywhat » January 21st, 2011, 6:44 am

All prisoners should have the right to vote.
As had been said many people are in prison who should be treated in some other more advanced and civilised way. Prison is overused.
Prison should not be seen so much as a punishment but as a form of rehabilitation, education and preparation for return to freedom when appropriate.
Being cut off from society by not being allowed to vote is on a par with transport to a distant place and even approaches the idea of removal of a limb or an eye.

thundril
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#14 Post by thundril » January 21st, 2011, 6:55 am

I voted Yes. I think the reason prison churns out re-offenders is that inside, you have no responsibilities: You are not allowed to make decisions about your day to day life, you are not encouraged to express opinions about the prison rules, and you are not required to take responsibility for your past and future conduct.
I personally have known people who commit crimes in the expectation of getting caught because they can't cope 'on the out'. Offenders should not be allowed to wallow about feeling sorry for themselves and for each other: they should be encouraged, required even, to behave like responsible citizens.

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Griblet
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#15 Post by Griblet » January 21st, 2011, 8:49 am

I voted 'no' and 'defy the European Court'.
But I can't see why it's causing such a fuss. Would most prisoners be bothered about voting if it were not denied to them? I can't see that it would play a huge part in their lives. It seems to me that a few of them are just kicking up a fuss for the sake of it.
And what constituency would they vote in?
A man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle.

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Alan C.
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#16 Post by Alan C. » January 21st, 2011, 12:12 pm

And what constituency would they vote in?
Good point Griblet.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Griblet
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#17 Post by Griblet » January 21st, 2011, 12:56 pm

" .... and I therefore declare Mr Nosher "Chainsaw" McSpubes duly elected as member for the constituency of Broadmoor East."

"Urrr, fank you yer honour. Now I'm gonna give them Con ... Conser .... urrr Tories innit a bleeding good seein to wiv me razor ....."
A man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle.

thundril
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#18 Post by thundril » January 21st, 2011, 1:42 pm

Griblet wrote: And what constituency would they vote in?
Their home constituency, most likely, or the constituency of their probation office or similar, if they have no fixed abode.. They could be reckoned as 'postal voters', I would supposee.

Fia
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#19 Post by Fia » January 21st, 2011, 4:44 pm

Is prison considered home?

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Alan H
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Re: Voting Rights for prisoners

#20 Post by Alan H » January 21st, 2011, 4:53 pm

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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