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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Keep the money, I want to vote!

Keep the money, I want to vote!

From Mark Sleman – HMP Stafford

I have noted the opinions of commentators and politicians with regards the prisoners vote issue, and the main irony is that the ‘against’ camp say that as prisoners, we do not have the right to influence policies that govern society. We now find ourselves, as a nation, in direct conflict with the European Court of Human Rights, to the extent that our government will probably reject the Court’s directive. Not only in refusing prisoners the vote, but also refusing to compensate us for the breach. This means that, even without having the vote, we are now having a huge impact on British politics, not only in this country but also in the rest of Europe.

The government’s stance on prisoners’ votes seems even more puerile when you actually examine the heart of the issue. The ethos of our prison system is, allegedly, to rehabilitate prisoners and turn them into law abiding and productive members of society, and one way of doing this is to give prisoners a vested interest into who governs that society. The widely-held view that prisoners are in a class removed from the rest of society may be true on a physical level, but it is a very short-sighted view when you consider that most prisoners are going to be released at some point. Cameron trumpets rhetoric about his ‘big society’ and how he wants ‘social inclusion’ and mobility, but almost in the same breath he can talk of ‘feeling physically sick’ when confronted with the idea of prisoners being allowed to vote. What’s it all about?

My claim for compensation, against the government for refusing to let me vote in the last general election, is already with the ECHR, but, if I had a choice, I’d take being allowed to vote over the money any time.

Source: Letters page, April 2011 issue Inside Time

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