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Thread: Give prisoners the vote?!

  1. #1
    Senior Member kitebunny's Avatar
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    Default Give prisoners the vote?!

    To stop me ranting about this at home, I'll rant here. I mean open a calm and reasonable debate


    So there's discussion and stuff about giving convicted criminals in UK prisons the right to vote. (prisoners on remand do have a vote btw)
    The European Court of Human Rights in their wisdom have decided that the long-standing UK policy of not allowing prisoners to vote is unlawful.

    My view: NO, they're convicted criminals!! They do not pass go, they do not collect 200, they go to jail and no they damn well should NOT be given the right to vote while they're in there. If the judicial system has decided they don't deserve a place in society (ie they need locked up) then they shouldn't get to participate in that society or have a say how it's run while they're in prison.
    You break our laws, you accept the consequences.


    Next they'll be arguing for their basic human right to freedom :|

    Discuss?
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    Senior Member kitycatlok's Avatar
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    Hmm... I'm in two minds as to whether or not this should happen. My first thought is: what about people who are only in for minor crimes and short sentences? They will be out of prison and have to live in the society that they have not voted for, which means that they have not had a say in the society they are now living in.

    My second thought is about people who have been wrongly convicted and are innocent are missing out as well. I know they are in the minority but it still seems a litte unfair to me that they miss out on voting when they have done absolutely nothing wrong.

    My third thought is that people who break the law remove themselves from society and so should not participate in the running of it in any way, shape or form. Paedophiles and such should not be able to decide how the country is run when they broke the law in such a horrible way and obviously are suffering from some severe mental difficulties and may not be able to make sensible decisions because of it.

    So I'm currently undecided about whether it's a good thing or not.
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    Senior Member Starry-night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kitycatlok View Post
    My first thought is: what about people who are only in for minor crimes and short sentences? They will be out of prison and have to live in the society that they have not voted for, which means that they have not had a say in the society they are now living in.

    My second thought is about people who have been wrongly convicted and are innocent are missing out as well. I know they are in the minority but it still seems a little unfair to me that they miss out on voting when they have done absolutely nothing wrong.
    .
    I'd agree more with this side of thinking. I think that yes, prisoners have committed crimes, but very few will remain in jail for the rest of their lives. Surely they aught to have the right their say seen as they will be living in the society again when they get out. Also there's a very wide spectrum of crimes committed that lead to imprisonment: something as trivial as stealing a bottle of wine from a supermarket to something as serious as murder. Is it really fair to paint every prisoner with the same brush?

    Also I see voting more as a civic obligation than a human right (although, granted it is both.). When seen as more of a civil obligation, then surely it would make more sense to allow them to vote and perform their civic duty then not to vote and be apathetic. If they don't perform their civic duty in prison then surely they would be less likely to do so on release? We should encourage people to preform this duty, not deny them. There's enough apathy out there as it is...

    Just my two cents
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    Senior Member kitebunny's Avatar
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    Generally, people don't end up in prison if they're the sort of person who are concerned with dong their civic duty. Just IMO.
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    Awesome Admin Hazel's Avatar
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    I'm not too sure but I mainly err on the side of keeping it as it is.

    Also short sentences and minor crimes are not the same thing. Our justice system can fail at times where it's obvious someone has done something horrific yet they can only be charged for part of their crime for whatever reason and in cases of not enough evidence etc someone who has done something major may well end up with a short sentence.

    Also on the part of people who are wrongly convicted and being wrongly punished etc there will also be a proportion of people out there who should be in prison who aren't and who are able to vote. There's flipsides to all of this.

    I suppose if I had to decide I'd say no voting for those in closed prisons or those who are category A/B ie serious offences but voting allowed for those in open prisons, juvinile and young offenders prisons as they're likely not to be in there for a long time and if they do move up to a close prison then that right is taken away from them.

    I know that there has to be basic human rights for prisoners but it I think a line has to be drawn somewhere. Also you have to wonder if they would vote purely based on who may well be more lenient on crime/sentencing and so on rather than who would benefit them once/if they were released.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Starry-night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kitebunny View Post
    Generally, people don't end up in prison if they're the sort of person who are concerned with dong their civic duty. Just IMO.
    Bit of a generalization, surely? Why not allow those on short terms who want to vote have their say?
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  7. #7
    Awesome Admin Hazel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starry-night View Post
    Bit of a generalization, surely? Why not allow those on short terms who want to vote have their say?
    I still don't get why length of sentence is being considered as a factor, why not the severity of the crime? I'd rather someone living in poverty who stole a few quids worth of food a few times and got the max sentence thrown at them by a mean CPS officer or JP to have a vote over someone who battered a person half to death but got off lightly due to lack of substantiating evidence and got a short sentence.

    That's why I reckon keeping as it is is probably for the best because it has to either be yes or no otherwise it turns into a costly and possibly logistical nightmare.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Coraz0ndeOro's Avatar
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    I don't they should be able to vote while they're in but they should when they're out. My boyfriend can't vote because of a DUI he got years ago (he hasn't driven under the influence since then) and to me that's not fair. I think he was only in jail for a month and he still can't vote, it's stupid.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member kitebunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starry-night View Post
    Bit of a generalization, surely? Why not allow those on short terms who want to vote have their say?
    Well yes, that's why I used the word "generally"

    They can have their say when they get out. and as Hazel says, length of sentence doesn't always correspond to the severity of the crime.
    Maybe those in "open" prisons could be allowed to vote since they're supposed to be getting re-integrated back into society anyway.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member julian's Avatar
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    Why not ban criminals for a period of time equal to the maximum sentence allowed for the crime? Theoretically that is proportional to the severity of the crime itself. Of course, there would be some oddities: for example currently if you are in prison for contempt of court you _can_ vote, but my method would mean you would be banned for life (the maximum sentence is life imprisonment).

    The other issue is that MPs can go to prison for up to a year and remain in the house, and peers require an act to be removed (which is why we have peers with serious convictions passing laws). This should also be extended to judges and police - personally I think it is wrong that those tasked with creating or upholding laws should be allowed to be criminals themselves.

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