Joe's Crow Country

PUBLISHED: 13:28 14 February 2011

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I CAN'T imagine many prisoners were too bothered about Parliament's decision not to allow them the vote last week.

The story grabbed headlines for weeks leading up to the decision, and provoked David Cameron to say he felt “physically sick” at the thought, while Human Rights groups praised the possibility.

I don’t expect there were many campaigns from the UK’s prisoners calling for a reform of the ruling though. It’s probably not an issue at the top of many of their agendas.

I won’t pretend I know too much about what prisoners get up to, or what they think about, but I can’t see any Strangeways style riots starting up after the decision.

MPs were voting on whether or not to grant the right to vote to prisoners who are serving a sentence of less than four years, in response to a ruling made by the European Court of Human Rights.

In the end they overwhelmingly voted against it. It’s just a shame there wasn’t an option to give some prisoners the vote, and not others, based on the severity and type of crime.

For example, someone serving a sentence for electoral fraud should have the right to vote taken away automatically as part of their sentence.

The same goes for those serving life sentences that are never going to see the positives or negatives of a political party’s tenure (unless prison reform is a major part of a manifesto).

But inmates serving less-than-a-year sentences for unpaid fines, or swinging a punch in a drunken fight, for example, are going to be affected by the decisions made by the Government in power.

They could be just about to leave prison by the time the elections are to take place, and should be given the chance to prove that prison has worked for them. These people have made mistakes, and should not be robbed of being a part of a democratic society.

The harshest amongst you may be thinking “It’s their own fault, they shouldn’t have committed the crime,” and you would be right, it is.

But those who have committed a first offence for a small crime should have the chance of influencing the way their country is run, as they will be a part of society.

David Cameron feeling physically sick at the idea of a citizen, albeit one with a regretful past, being allowed to vote, is absurd.

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