Changes expected to prisoner voting

Some short-term prisoners may soon be allowed to vote.

The Scottish Parliament Equality and Human Rights Committee has been looking into issues around ending the blanket ban on prisoner voting rights. After taking evidence where responses were overwhelmingly positive, the Committee wrote to various bodies asking for their comments on the issue.

Victim Support Scotland in response emphasised that they support human rights for all, do not oppose prisoner voting but that it is important that there is explicit and readily available public information on punishment processes, whatever these include.

Lord Carloway, the Lord President, has written to the Committee saying very clearly that it must be Parliament and not judges and sheriffs who decide on whether prisoners with certain sentence lengths or conditions etc should be allowed to vote.

A report from the Committee on their conclusions on prisoner voting is expected soon.


Meanwhile for Westminster elections, the Council of Europe has accepted a deal from the UK about prisoner voting.  The Human Rights Court (an arm of the Council of Europe) had previously found that the UK was at fault by having a blanket ban on prisoner voting.  In the new, accepted proposals, prisoners on temporary release and at home under curfew would be able to vote.  This affects a very small number of prisoners – about 100 more offenders at any one time will be able to vote, where previously they couldn’t. This compares to over 86,000 prisoners in the UK in total.

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Image credit: Poppet with a camera, Flickr 

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