This is a very contentious subject with many holding very strong views on the matter such as David Cameron, who said in 2012 that the thought of giving prisoners the vote made him feel “physically ill”. Even during his time as prime minister, at a point where the European Court of Human Rights ruled that prisoners should be allowed to vote Cameron still stood by his statement. Cameron still continued to state that “No one should be in any doubt. Prisoners are not getting the vote under this government.”
Although contentious, his view seemed to be backed up by the majority of politicians at this point with 234 against 22 voting to retain the blanket ban on prisoners voting across Britain. Surely this is a case where the politicians have got it right; prisoners have violated the law, caused possible harm to our society and should face the repercussions of this by being sectioned from society while they fulfil their sentence. Prisoners would vote irrationally, some may argue, with their main aim to further destabilise society and mould it for their gain. However, isn’t this what all voters do? Attempt to disturb the equilibrium in society merely to push their own agenda and hopefully gain extra from society? Therefore surely we cannot distinguish between votes from inmates and votes from the general public as both are expressing their views and trying to change the country to make it better for themselves.
By not giving prisoners the vote we are further marginalising them from society, the main aim of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service is to “rehabilitate people in our care” so surely by further isolating prisoners from society we are undoing the main aim of Her Majesty’s service in rehabilitating inmates. By not giving them the vote we are not allowing them to have a voice in the society they will be released into when they have served their sentence, surely this is only going to lead to an increase in repeat offenders as ex-prisoners no longer feel part of society.
Surely it is time for the UK to reform this ancient act, at least to modify it so as to allow those with shorter sentences the ability to vote; as has been done in 13 other European countries recently. We can no longer isolate the 80,000 people who are in our prisons across the UK. At least some of them deserve a voice.