Prisoners and the politics of enfranchisement
in Citizen convicts
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Prisoner enfranchisement remains one of the few contested electoral issues in twenty first century democracies. This chapter examines the politics of, and international jurisprudence on, prisoner enfranchisement. It considers jurisdictions where it has become a matter of legal quarrel and political debate. The debate on prisoner enfranchisement is at the intersection of punishment and representative government, encompassing issues such as the purpose of imprisonment, the nature of the social contract and the meaning of citizenship. In the political debates, the language used and the arguments put forward in favour of, or against enfranchisement, go beyond whether or not prisoners should have the right to vote. It gives an indication of the proponent’s perspective on the aims of imprisonment. The first part of this chapter sets out international policy and practice on prisoners and enfranchisement. It then examines countries which have generally come down in favour of allowing some or all prisoners to vote and concludes by looking at jurisdictions that have attracted most attention - the United States and the United Kingdom - in political and judicial attempts to prevent prisoners’ access to the ballot box.

Citizen convicts

Prisoners, politics and the vote

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