Report on prisoner voting

100000A2downviewThis morning saw the publication of the report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill.  As regular readers will know, I served on the committee and we have spent the past year taking evidence from a range of witnesses, including the Justice Secretary and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.  We also visited a couple of prisons (one appears in the picture) to hear from prisoners.

Views were clearly divided, but we recommended allowing prisoners serving less than twelve months, and those within six months of release, be permitted to vote.  We felt that twelve months was appropriate, as this is the maximum sentence a magistrates court can impose for multiple offences and is also the term in force at the time we signed the European Convention on Human Rights.  It thus puts us back to where we were until the late 1960s: the blanket ban on prisoners being allowed to vote only dates from then.

Our recommendation flowed from our belief that the UK should comply with the rule of law and our international obligations.  Parliament has the power to retain a blanket ban but we argued against using that power, given the undesirable consequences we felt would flow from retaining the ban.

You can read the full report here.

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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2 Responses to Report on prisoner voting

  1. Chris K says:

    The ‘undesirable’ consequences being that Parliament, for once, reflects the overwhelming view of the public who do not want prisoners to vote.

    I’m sorry to say that I hope the report is ignored and Parliament sticks to its guns. If as a consequence we have to reconsider our international obligations then that is a price worth paying.

    Had anyone back in 1998 seriously thought the day would come when the ECHR is ruling on matters of franchise n UK elections, then maybe we wouldn’t have been so quick to sign up in the first place.

  2. maude elwes says:

    At last we seem, in part, to be entering the human race once again. Although, the refusal by the State to grant full voting rights to people who have erred is delusional. They are part of our society whether that is accepted or not.

    And to the previous poster, how do you know what the British public feel in the majority about this matter? They have not been formally asked and no referendum was offered or sought on it. And if you believe government propaganda you will always be in the dark.

    Here is an example of how you can be hoodwinked by government duplicity.

    Did you know the EU has offered the UK government 2.5 billion in aid for use by the British people presently starving and lining up at food banks to fend off starvation and this group have refused it? No? Well I wonder why that is? How is it the BBC didn’t have this all over the air waves ad nauseam? Give you one guess.

    Peace and goodwill to all men is the name of the game this time of year. Is it not?.

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