By DebbieH 28 Jan 2014 7 min read

John Prescott calls for prisoners to be given legal right to vote

Should going to prison mean giving up your right to voice your opinions?

Speaking in the Daily Mirror this week, John Prescott asked whether denying prisoners the right to vote was an infringement of their human rights.

In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights famously found in favour of prison inmate John Hurst, who had taken the Government to trial claiming his vote was his right as a citizen of the EU. Stating that a blanket ban on prisoners being denied the right to vote was against their human rights, the UK government was then advised to re-think their policy on the issue altogether.

As the most comprehensive review of Britain’s voting rights under international agreements, a joint committee between the houses of parliament was created to discuss a number of compromises and solutions which may be more favouriable than lifting the ban altogether.

Reaching a decision to recommend that prisoners with a sentence stretching less than 12 months could have their right to vote retained – in real terms, this would include 10% of the prison population in the UK, or 7,500 convicted criminals. Denying them this might mean retracting from the European Convention in order to do so.

Since 2010 the issue has been subject to contention across the party lines, however the president of the European Court of Human Rights Dean SPielmann has raised the issue again to warn David Cameron that pulling out of the convention altogether would be a “political disaster” and that depriving prisoners of the vote would be a “violation of international law”.

Prescott goes on to say that leaving the convention or even denying prisoners the vote would be a step in which we “throw away our ­commitment to a free and just society.”

“The Convention of Human Rights has upheld the rights of more than half a billion people for over 50 years. We can’t opt out of our ­responsibility to them,” he said.

What are your views? Should prisoners be given the vote? Does comitting a crime automatically negate you from being able to take part in deciding your country’s future?

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