Quakers in Criminal Justice

December 2010 Newsletter


This is such a full issue that any further comment from me seems unnecessary. I would, however, like to comment on one recent development: the insistence from the European Court of Human Rights that prisoners in UK gaols must be allowed the vote. For one, I welcome this. I can see the other side of the argument – “People behind bars have forfeited the rights of ordinary citizens” – and in Florida ex-prisoners are denied the right to vote for life. But too much of prison life involves taking away people's responsibilities for themselves. If we want prisoners to develop a new commitment to responsible citizenship, the granting of the vote is a good place to start. I don't believe the inmates of British gaols will all vote BNP, but the simultaneous arrival of the Transferable Vote System should produce some interesting results in marginal seats where there are several prisons. And then, I hope and pray the prisoners have the sense to USE their votes; the non-voter is the enemy of every party, of democracy itself.

Adrian Smith
Newsletter editor

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