Thursday, 6 January 2011

Votes for "Thugs"?

After pressure from 'Europe', the vote is to be restored for some UK prisoners incarcerated for violent crimes. The AOL headline says "Anger as Jailed Thugs given Vote". The shadow Justice Secretary, Sadiq Khan, says that " ---- this is a slap in the face for victims". Let's finkabowdit.

What is the societal purpose of incarceration in relation to crimes of violence? Well, the punishment of 'deprivation of spacial freedom' deters others from committing similar offences doesn't it? While in prison the offender certainly can't re-offend and we may be able to positively influence his/her future behaviour. Anything else? Does it also have the desirable effect that the perpetrator's victim(s) feel vindicated and that society recognises that they were wronged? Yes, I think that's right too. But none of these 'good' effects necessitate that we make the offender a 'non-person' as well as depriving them of their spacial freedom. As an adult UK citizen they should still have a democratic right to participate in the election of their representatives. If we ask them to obey the law it would be wrong to deprive them of their only means of influencing the laws that will still apply after they have served their sentence.

This isn't a 'slap in the face for victims' it is a welcome improvement to our unwritten 'social contract'.

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