Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote

Last updated: July 27, 2017

Should people serving prison sentences be permitted to vote in elections?

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

Prisoners remain human beings. We should respect their human rights and should infringe upon their l...

Prisoners remain human beings. We should respect their human rights and should infringe upon their liberty as little as possible, except for the protection of the public. Denying prisoners the right to vote does not protect the public and is therefore an unwarranted infringement upon the human rights of prisoners.
No because...
People who have been sent to prison are rightly condemned to “civic death”: they are shut away not only to protect society, but also to symbolise society’s disgust at their acts. Although prisoners are no longer executed in many jurisdictions, the idea of “civic death” is that they lose the rights of citizens without dying in a literal sense. Those who offend against the common good of society should have no right to contribute to the governance of society. They can only be readmitted to society, both physically and in terms of their rights, when they have made amends to society by serving their sentence.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

The views and needs of prisoners are currently not represented. Issues such as prison overcrowding a...

The views and needs of prisoners are currently not represented. Issues such as prison overcrowding and abuse by warders are not treated seriously as political issues, since those most directly affected cannot vote and the public generally has little interest in prisoners’ well-being. Prisoners should also have the opportunity to influence the formation of policy on healthcare, education, the environment and all the other issues that affect the world into which almost all of them will some day be released. Prisoners are not treated as “civically dead” when it benefits the State: they are liable for taxation on any earnings and savings that they have. There should be no taxation without representation.
No because...
In practice, few prisoners earn enough to be liable for taxation. In any case, the right to vote does not follow from the obligation to pay tax. In many countries, people start earning money and paying tax before they are old enough to vote (particularly if they leave school as soon as they are allowed to do so). This implies that the right to vote is given to those who can be expected to use it responsibly. Those convicted of serious enough crimes to be imprisoned have shown that they have no respect for society. They therefore cannot be trusted to vote responsibly in the interests of society; many would probably simply vote for candidates promising lighter sentences for criminals. Prisoners’ interests are already represented by NGOs and statutory prison inspection bodies, which ensure that they are not ill-treated. They do not deserve any further representation.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

Giving prisoners the vote would aid their rehabilitation, which is essential if they are to avoid re...

Giving prisoners the vote would aid their rehabilitation, which is essential if they are to avoid re-offending after being released. Denying prisoners the vote implies that they are sub-human: this damages their dignity and sense of self-worth, undermining efforts to help them control their behaviour. Voting encourages prisoners to take an interest in current affairs, which will aid their reintegration into society. Where prisoners are allowed to vote, they are usually required to vote in their home constituency, to avoid several hundred inmates in one jail causing a sudden swing in the constituency in which the jail is sited. This encourages them to take an interest in the particular community from which they came and into which they will probably be released.
No because...
Rehabilitation should focus upon making prisoners realise and sincerely regret the effects of their actions. It should not aim to give them a feeling of dignity or the illusion that they are full members of society. Prisoners can only be given the rights of members of society when they are deemed capable of acting as responsible members of society (i.e. when they are released).

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

Few, if any, people are deterred from crime by the prospect of being unable to vote. People are dete...

Few, if any, people are deterred from crime by the prospect of being unable to vote. People are deterred from committing crimes by the prospects of their movement being restricted and of being separated from loved ones. The effectiveness of a sentence can be measured by how well it protects the public, how well it rehabilitates the offender, how well it reverses the effects of the crime committed and how well it deters future offending. Banning prisoners from voting is either counterproductive (i.e. in terms of rehabilitation) or has no positive effect.
No because...
Banning prisoners from voting is one part of a package of measures that exclude prisoners from normal society, the most obvious of which are restrictions on movement, communication and employment. By itself, a ban on voting may have minimal deterrent effect. As part of this package of measures, however, it sends out a strong signal of society’s revulsion at those who commit crime, thereby discouraging lawbreaking.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

Linking a ban on voting to imprisonment is arbitrary. Many people who commit serious crimes are not ...

Linking a ban on voting to imprisonment is arbitrary. Many people who commit serious crimes are not sent to prison, because of their age, the effects upon their dependents or the likelihood that they will not re-offend. Others committing equivalent or lesser crimes, without these special circumstances, may be imprisoned. Even if it were ever right to deprive people of the vote as a punishment (the proposition arguments above would suggest this is never justified), this should not automatically be associated with imprisonment, but should be decided separately, as in France and Germany.
No because...
This is not an argument for letting all, or indeed any, prisoners vote. The imposition of a prison sentence is a good general index of the seriousness of a crime, and those who have committed serious crimes should suffer “civic death”. Where people are exceptionally not imprisoned, they should be deprived of the right to vote for the period for which they would usually have been imprisoned.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

In most cases, the punishment doesn't fit the crime

There is a strong principle in the criminal justice system that the punishment should fit the crime - the more severe the crime, the more sever the punishment.

At the moment, anyone who is serving a custodial sentence at the time of an election is unable to take part, regardless of the crime for which they were sentenced, or for how long they have been sentenced to prison.
No because...
But the whole point is, that regardless of the crime, from murder to theft to minor violence, by committing those acts you have broken the law of society. You have said that you do not wish to comply with the laws of society. Well, if criminals do not want to have the burden of the laws, then neither should they have the benefit of those laws for the duration of their custodial punishment.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

Those who have a proven negetive impact on society should not have a say on how it is run

If you are found guilty in a court of law of breakig the laws of a society, what right do you have to then request a change in those laws?
It is laughable that the very people who cannot conform to the laws of a society should get to have their say.

I would sooner give foreigners (who weren't in prison) the vote than give it to conficts.
No because...
A right to vote is not a right to change the laws in society. Democrats would love to advocate that this is the case but quite simply it is not. Politicians will not change laws on the basis of a few prisoner votes. We must also not forget that those who are in prion are not necessarily guilty. They may be suffering from a miscarriage of justice. In addition, there will be people in prison who only committed menial offences which are not enough of a good reason to remove their right to vote in a society that classes itself as liberal.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

Politicans aiming for the "prisoner vote"

Giving prisoners the vote might cause politicians to start appealing to the "prisoner vote". We could see politicians offering reduced custodial times as a party pledge.
No because...
This is very unlikely to be the case. Politicians are all about appealing to the majority. As of 28 October 2010 there were 85,159 people in prison [[http://www.hmprisonservice.gov.uk/resourcecentre/publicationsdocuments/index.asp?cat=85]]. Compare this to the 61.8 million population in the UK [[http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=6]]. Bearing these figures in mind, it is not feasible that a politician would appeal to the prisoner vote.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
Yes because...

Police could influence their votes

The thing that we have to worry about in giving prisoners the right to vote is the possibility of the police influencing their votes. Given that the prison is such a closed away building from society as it is, how can we ensure that the votes cast in the prisons are legitimate? Any unused votes could be used by office guards themselves. Alternatively, police could exert undue influence over the prisoners and how they vote. Prisoners could be enticed to vote a certain way. This serves no purpose than giving the police more votes than they are entitled to.
No because...
This could happen at any given polling station but it doesn't. These measures are being introduced as the European Court of Human Rights considers a blanket ban on voting for prisoners as a breach of human rights. It is likely therefore that the Government will introduce many procedural safeguards to ensure that the voting rights are exercised in a similar fashion to the ones outside of prison. Only then will they be fully meeting the expectations of the Human Rights Court which they do not wish to contravene.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
No because...

Prisoners have forfeited the right to vote by breaking the law

Voting is a privilege, not a right, and people in prison has shown they are not worthy of that privilege by breaking the law in the first place. Is it not oxymoronic to grant someone who has broken the law a privilege granted by the law? If prisoners are unsatisfied with their condition, they should not have got there in the first place, and they have only themselves to blame. If they believe their sentence is too long, then perhaps we should consider changing some other laws, but not grant this one.

Would you give someone who has recently blown someone else up the privilege of voting for the leader of our community? What kind of leaders do we want?
Yes because...
This argument takes an extreme example to prove its point. However, if we take a look at those in prison, the majority have not 'blown people up'. 28% of the prison population are made up of criminals who committed violence against a person[[http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/snsg-04334.pdf]]. These do not include sexual offences or murder. They do include minor attacks. How can we equate these minor offences with that of blowing things up? Why should people who get involved in fights be deprived of the right to vote, just the same as a murderer or arsonist?

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
No because...

It will cost the tax payer money!

The move to change legislation to allow most members of the prison population to vote will cost the tax payer in administration costs. Not only will we have to pay the costs of the legislation going through both Houses of Parliament and then being sent to draftsmen and then finally to the Queen. Not only will the taxpayer have to pay these costs, but they will also have to pay the costs of implementation. Prisoners will have to be escorted to their voting places, then their votes will have to be collected and counted. This would be such a lengthy procedure. It would be much easier to not change the laws and not allow them to vote.
Yes because...
Oh dear, what if people had this view before women had the vote? Money should be of no concern when we are dealing with justice and rights.

In addition, given the 2004 ruling of the European Court of Human rights in which it was stated that it was against the European Convention of Human Rights for the vote to be taken away for certain offences [[http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/european-court-of-human-rights]]. Given this fact, prisoners can now take the UK Government to the European Court arguing that the UK is in breach of the Human Rights legislation. This would costs the UK Taxpayer far more than the implementation of the correct rights in the first place.

Prisoners Should Have The Right To Vote
No because...

It would ruin constituencies

The judgment does not actually mean that prisoners have to have the vote as under the European Convention the right to vote is a very qualified right. Up until 2000 there was a blanket ban, but now people on remand before conviction or sentence can vote because they have a home address. It would be unfair that a whole prison's worth of voters could sway a council or a general election because the prison is so large it would affect the constituency size and count as a large part of the voters in the constituency and it would marginalise the votes of law abiding citizens in constituencies.
Yes because...
This would be easily circumvented by making the prisoners votes count towards the constituency they last resided in before their custodial sentence. That way, there would not be an over concentration of prisoner votes in constituencies with large prisons.


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rosa

yes, they do deserve the right to vote as well because they are also humans and they deserve to be treated like humans.