Cameron spews forth on prisoner voting rights
David Cameron, oh puh-lease.
The Eton-educated Prime Minister has said that the idea of prisoners being given the vote makes him “physically sick”.
What a weak stomach the man must possess. And, what on earth do they teach people at Eton – certainly not concern for the less perfect; the less well-off or those whose lives are wrecked by poverty and deprivation.
Yes, Prime Minister, you did go to a good school and you should know better. I expect more of a man in your position. I went to a little-known convent where the education was so bad that we were all given a day off if any girl got into Oxford or Cambridge. In six years at that school, we only had one day off, but, at least, we learned to care about other people.
If you are unfortunate enough to be banged up in the UK – unlike in other countries such as The Netherlands and Spain, you can’t search for the party that’ll be nicest to prisoners and put a firm cross on a ballot form and have your say. You’re in the clink so no way are you going anywhere near a ballot box, it is simply not allowed.
The trouble is, Mr Cameron, most inmates are not the vile murderers and sex offenders you imagine. The truth is that a vast number are in jail because they cannot afford to pay fines for minor misdemeanours they have committed.
And that makes me feel physically sick. It isn’t fair. We all make mistakes. Fortunately, and especially if we have been educated at Eton, we can afford to pay any fine imposed.
Isn’t the truth behind your dislike of the idea of prisoners being allowed in the ballot box quite simply that such a reform would not be a vote winner and would enrage your rabid Right devotees; I mean the hang ‘em and flog ‘em brigade? Let’s be honest, staying in power is everything to politicians. We all know that.
Like it or not – and you obviously don’t – voting is a basic human right, not, I repeat not, a privilege or a benefit which can be earned or lost. Withholding the vote from prisoners is an archaic law in urgent need of reform, even if it does make our PM throw up in the process.
In fact, for prisoners, the right to vote would be far more meaningful than exercising a human right. It could be a first, crucial step towards engaging with society in a positive way. Isn’t that what you want: to cut down on the high rates of recidivism in this country? Supporters say giving prisoners the right to vote would help with their rehabilitation and keep them in touch with society and their role as citizens within the wider community.
People like Cameron, on the other hand, believe that if offenders have failed to conform to the laws of our society then they should have no influence on how that society is run.
However, regardless of whether a person is in prison or not, he or she is still affected by the laws and the government of the country. Because of this, prisoners just like other adult citizens, should have the right to vote.
David, have you forgotten that we live in a democracy where everybody is equal, irrespective of how much or how little a person has contributed to society.
Allowing a prisoner to retain the vote is not the same as awarding them champagne and caviar; it simply means that the custodial system, which is condemned year after year, might stand a chance of being reformed.
Also, you are forgetting the innocent families of these offenders who make you want to vomit?
Or do they make you feel sick as well?
At least, in jail, there is an infrastructure of sorts to support prisoners. There is no real equivalent for the families. Relatives are rarely prepared for the verdict. Hence, there is almost always shock, panic and a great deal of distress when someone is sentenced. Often women lose their one and only breadwinner and, if the crime is bad enough, they sometimes have to face the disgust of neighbours plus the anger of the victim’s family.
It’s bad enough being inside but, at least, a prisoner gets three square meals and a roof over his or her head. Some offenders’ families are left utterly devastated by a sentence.
The paradox of imprisonment lies in society’s expectations: the community wants rehabilitation, but, importantly, retribution as well. Imprisonment is not enough for the public. They want prisoners to suffer in jail. They want their pound of flesh and prefer to ignore the famous law which demands that deprivation of liberty is the one-and-only punishment.
That’s what I call sickening, Mr Cameron.
Article focus: prisoner voting rights