Juliet Lyon on votes for prisonersApril 1, 2009 at 7:00 am | Posted in Prison Reform | 1 Comment
There are few or no votes in prison reform and little interest in the rights and responsibilities of those behind bars. One of the reasons is that prisoners themselves can’t vote.
Five years ago today the European court of human rights ruled that the UK’s blanket ban on prisoners’ voting is unlawful and in violation of Article 3 of the First Protocol of the European convention on human rights.
Since then the government has employed a range of delaying tactics to avoid implementing the ruling. The UK is normally regarded as having a good record in complying with European court decisions, but it seems that successive justice ministers have been preoccupied with political considerations and fear of adverse headlines, rather than fairness or the rule of law.
Disenfranchisement is a relic from punishments of the past dating back to the Forfeiture Act of 1870. It is based on an idea of civic death and the withdrawal of citizenship rights and responsibilities. A far cry from what we would expect from a 21st-century justice system and a modernised prison service. People are sent to prison to lose their liberty not their identity
NB: I’ll just be dumping links for the rest of this week, and will be away from the internet for all of next week. Normal blogging will resume on around 12th or 13th of March