Thursday, April 09, 2009

Law & Order : Prisoners will soon get voting rights

After 140 years of no-vote for criminals behind bars in the UK, it has been announced that prisoners will soon get the right to vote after an ECHR directive from 2004 .. (Salmond will have to some of his speeches inside Barlinnie ! – Ed)

The Scotsman reports :

Prisoners nearer to getting vote

Published Date: 09 April 2009
By Hamish Macdonell

PRISONERS serving short sentences may be granted the right to vote, the UK government announced yesterday.

For more than 140 years, it has been one of the principles of justice in Britain that criminals deprived of their liberty are also deprived of their right to vote.

But in 2004 the European Court of Human Rights ruled the approach breached the human rights of inmates and told the UK government to give prisoners the vote.

The UK government yesterday released a consultation paper – its second on the subject – setting out a range of possible options. One suggestion, favoured by the government, is to restore voting rights to prisoners serving 12 months or less while other options include extending the franchise to those serving two years or less and four years or less. There is no proposal to give the vote to those serving four years or more.

Electoral law is reserved to Westminster so the Scottish Government has no remit in this process. If UK ministers decide to extend the vote to short-term prisoners, they will enact the legislation for the whole of the UK, including Scotland.

Geoff Dobson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said the ban was an "unjustified relic".

Shadow justice secretary, Dominic Grieve demanded MPs were given a right to vote on keeping the ban.

He said: "The principle that those who are in custody after conviction should not have the opportunity to vote is a perfectly rational one. Civic rights go with civic responsibility, but these rights have been flagrantly violated by those who have committed imprisonable offences."

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