Prisoners Right to Vote

I've joined some UK ex prisoners - Farah Damji and John Hirst - who are fighting for the right for prisoners to vote. John singlehandedly won a ruling in the European Court of Human Rights that the UK government has ignored. The court ruled that UK prisoners are being denied a basic human right.

Farah has posted an article about this here. We are getting attacked in the comments. Here is my response to the comments opposed to prisoners having the right to vote:

How are prisoners – many of whom will be released – supposed to reintegrate with society if society deprives them of their basic human rights? If prisoners are treated like animals, some of them will return to society and behave like animals, and society will ultimately pay a steep price. Isn’t the right to vote a way to encourage prisoners to participate in the lawful activity of society? It seems to me that disenfranchisement is more likely to turn prisoners into enemies of society.

Living with prisoners, I learnt that a lot of them did not have the advantages many of us had growing up. That doesn’t excuse them for their crimes, but it has led me to believe that some encouragement from society later in life would help them to become productive members of society.

3 comments:

Green Goddess said...

From Clive Stafford Smith, Guanantanamo lawyer and defender of human rights

"Prisoners are the ones who most need the right to vote. Where, on the tablets that Moses brought down from Mt Sinai, does it say that you should remove the right to vote from those who are in need of a voice?"

Shannon Clark said...

I agree with this as well. My son is probably one of the most politically astute people I know. I can't imagine him never having a voice in the voting process for the rest of his natural life. There should be a time and/or condition upon which this right is reinstated for those who have served their lawful time. Sue O

Anonymostly said...

There are two issues with this campaign in the eyes of the public, I think.

The first is a fundamental misunderstanding of what "human rights" actually are. People seem to think they are some inalienable unalterable truth, when they are in fact an entirely human construct, continually in flux and under debate and always being added to and adapted. Thus, you can say "I don't believe prisoners being allowed to vote should be a human right" but you can't say "votes for prisoners is not a human right", because it has been decreed to be one by those that make such decrees and that is that.

The UK signed up to be bound by the European Court of Human Rights and that is a good thing that protects all of us from abuse by our own government. Having done that, we don't get to pick and choose which rights we abide by. Those calling for us to reject the ECHR because they happen to disagree with this one ruling are idiots prepared to sell their own rights and protections down the river just so they can prevent a group they dislike getting theirs. Words cannot express the contempt I feel for such people.

The second issue is, unfortunately, John Hirst. There are some people who automatically dislike any convicted criminal regardless of their crime, their background and the degree to which they have be reformed. Those people will be against votes for prisoners whoever is leading the fight. Unfortunately, John Hirst is a very frightening and intimidating man that even the most moderate find difficult to sympathise with. To my mind that makes no difference to whether he is right or wrong in this case (and I think he is right) but it makes the cause an even harder sell. It is also why I have chosen to comment anonymously here - not something I would usually do, but he scares me.