Votes for prisoners
Commenting on the House of Commons resolution seeking to block prisoners from getting the vote, against the definitive ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, Simon Barrow, co-director of the beliefs and values thinktank Ekklesia, which works for alternatives to prison, commented:
"Today's vote is sad testimony to the popular prejudice and spite which often informs reaction to the general issue of prisoners' rights and to the specific question of enfranchisement. It is shameful that many of our parliamentarians should be so cavalier in their willingness to restrict democratic freedom and renege on treaty obligations.
"Encouraging and enabling prisoners to change their ways and to become responsible citizens will not be possible if they are treated as lesser human beings or are denied basic components of citizenship, in addition to their freedom.
"What this political opposition to the European Court's rightful ruling illustrates is that the whole culture of incarcerating people generates attitudes of neglect, disregard and anger - in those who are imprisoned and also in those who uphold, legislate and entrench the current system.
"Penal reform, restorative justice programmes, community punishment, citizenship training and alternatives to prison are the route forward - in the interests of stemming crime, protecting victims and making society a healthier place, as well as acting responsibly and justly towards inmates."
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