I'm surprised how much support there is in Britain for denying prisoners the right to vote. All three major parties seem to support it (although i guess the Lib Dems don't really have a choice).
When thinking about this issue it helps to refer to the main accepted reasons for punishment (more info here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punishment#Possible_reasons_for_punishment
The four main reasons are:
4. Societal Protection
The two most obvious reasons for denying the vote are point 3 and point 4.
In relation to reason 3: Denying the vote seems like a very poor form of punishment. It also seems like a regressive reason to punish people in general as it does society really no good. It seems to me like a very populist and vengeful reason for punishment. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
In relation to reason 4: Prisoners make up a small fraction of the electorate. If they made up a significant portion of the electorate to have any significant impact in the house of commons then something would be very wrong (too many people would be incarcerated).
In general, I don't think it helps to deny prisoners the right to participate in society so much. The very act of voting may even help in rehabilitation by showing prisoners that they still have a voice and encouraging them to thing about society as a whole (I acknowledge that this point is fairly speculative).
The current attitude seems self righteous, vengeful and populist. We should try understand how criminals come to be rather than denigrate them. In many cases they are victims of society, the result of bad parenting, poverty, addiction etc. Prisoners have important things to say in this regard. We should listen to them.
It is also possible that incarcerating certain portions of society may be beneficial to certain political parties. I don't think its that unlikely that political powers could try to incarcerate with this thought somewhere in their heads.
#incarceration #uk #democracy