Social Question

RareDenver's avatar

Should prisoners be able to vote?

Asked by RareDenver (13090 points ) February 20th, 2010

BARRED FROM VOTING say that the upcoming UK general election will break European Law unless the ban on prisoners voting is lifted.

My first thought was that prisoners should not be able to vote but Government make laws and and imprison people that brake the laws, so anyone who posed a threat to the Government could be kept from voting in a new Government by being found guilty of an imprisonable offence.

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35 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

No. They’re in prison because their right to interact with society has been revoked.
Why should convicted rapists and murders have a say in my life?

Sarcasm's avatar

Absolutely.
Every adult deserves the right to voice their opinions.

AstroChuck's avatar

It depends if you feel the right to vote is a basic human right. If so I feel you have to extend that to all sane adults, regardless of their status. Currently Maine and Vermont are the only US states that allow prisoners voting rights.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

That’s awesome. Let’s let Osama bin Laden vote too!

Giving people who want to steal from and kill you, the right to vote FTL.

Sarcasm's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Except Osama bin Laden is not an American citizen. edit: I guess I should say, he’s not a British citizen. Since Denver’s question refers to the UK.
Cool similarities bro.

AstroChuck's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy- I wasn’t aware citizens of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia could vote or that he was a convicted prisoner.

Steve_A's avatar

I believe there are laws already, depending on the state, and what the crime was that tell whether or not prisoners can vote. That is in regards to the U.S. The UK I have no ideal.

You lost the right when you violated the laws by which all people must go by. When you have served your punishment,and come back out you should have the right to vote again.

Something I found that I agree with.

“No, while incarcerated or while serving any part of their sentence such as parole or Probation a convicted Felon may not vote. However, in many states, once you have completed your sentence and are once again a tax paying citizen you can vote. This varies from state to state. Florida I don’t believe you can, but in South Carolina I know you get your rights to vote reinstated, but not your right to own a handgun, that you lose for ever.”

I only speak in regards to the U.S. and of course you should be a citizen.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Hey your the one who wants to enable people to have greater power to take adavatange
of you.

They’re in prison because they broke the law so giving them more power over the law is pretty retarded.

Let’s give killers an thieves that right and see how well that works out in 5 years.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I believe they should be able to vote – after all prison is supposed to be a punishment and then they should be able to re-enter society – this is their society as well and they should have a say in its future

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Guys: Its a euphemism. I’m quite aware of the inability of non citizens to vote.

Sorry dudes if you don’t understand, but really? You want convicted criminals to vote? If a criminal rape your wife you might not be so quick to give him the right. This shouldn’t be such an alien concept.

Maybe you don’t live in areas where crime is a problem and you have the luxury of such “pie in the sky” attitudes.

lilikoi's avatar

Prisoners should absolutely have the right to vote. Else once we put them in there, we can turn them into slaves. How do you stand up for yourself if you have no voice?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy yeah you’re right – I live in Brooklyn and there is no crime here – we leave our doors open at night ~
Anyway, most people in prison are not ones that have raped my wife (speaking tongue in cheek here) – most prisoners are criminals of victimless crimes, incidental criminals (one-timers, special circumstances) and people with mental health issues…they still all, to me, have rights because they too belong to his society…you might have really terrible feelings towards rapists (as do I) but I am not so black and white on this issue where I think our justice system is flawless and puts actual criminals in prison.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Have fun empowering people who want to kill you. Let me know how that works out.
Actually don’t.

I’ll read about it in the paper.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy activism for prison reform is necessary in terms of people’s rights and health and well-being…people are discriminated against based on race and sex and gender…sometimes, the worst criminals are powerful and wealthy and don’t get any kind of punishment and the least offensive criminals suffer the most…please look into prison disparities before you make random statements

jbfletcherfan's avatar

No! They gave up their right to privileges of society when they broke the law.

ragingloli's avatar

I see no convincing reason why they should not.
I also will pay no heed to emotionally charged ‘arguments’ รก la “do you want the rapist of your wife to have rights”. The answer to that would be “yes” anyway.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

The criminals I worry about are the ones too powerful to ever indict. It is a question of not voting for them rather than depriving them of their vote.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Convicted criminals should be able to function as members of society ONLY when they have paid their debt to that society.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy I agree. The question said “prisoners”. Prisoners voting? NO! But once they’re released from prison, yes, if they’ve done their time.

liminal's avatar

Of course, all citizens should have the right to vote. Not allowing the incarcerated to vote insinuates that they are somehow “less” a citizen than other citizens and that doesn’t make sense to me.

galileogirl's avatar

Civil rights arise from the theory of social contract, which states that people must give up some personal freedom in order to have the protection of a stable govt. Simply the laws come from the consent of the governed, the basis of our country. If you break that contract by breaking laws, you are not entitled to the rights and protections of the government. Sorry guys break the law, lose your rights-remember high school Civics

liminal's avatar

If the meting out of punishment by incarceration were perfectly fair and everybody who broke social contracts of law were subjected to the same consequences I would understand the removal of the right to vote. Yet, it simply isn’t that way.

ragingloli's avatar

@galileogirl
It is not an all or nothing situation. Contracts contain specific penalties for certain infractions and so does the ‘social contract’, by defining certain punishments to certain crimes. It is called proportionality. Remember, not all inmates are rapists and murders. Most are not.
If someone is jailed because of drug use or because he assaulted someone while drunk or enrage does not warrant the loss of every right he has. For example, in the US, they still have the right to be free from inhuman conditions, free from sexual crimes, freedom to complain about prison conditions, free to voice their opinions about their treatment, the right to legal representation in court, the right to equal treatment in court, the right to medical care, freedom of speech and freedom from unauthorised deprivation of property (theft) (link).
Personally, I see the right to vote contained in the right to freedom of expression and speech, one of the rights they should not lose.

ragingloli's avatar

In Germany, for example, you can only lose your active elective rights (voting for someone) for committing some (not all) political crimes (really heavy stuff, like treason, election fraud, preparing a war of aggression, leading a party that has been declared unconstitutional, etc) and even then you do not lose it automatically but the court has to explicitely deprive you of it.
However you do lose passive elective rights (being voted for by others) for 5 years if you are sentenced to jail time of at least 1 year.

galileogirl's avatar

Life isn’t fair. We can work toward perfection but will never achieve it, Meanwhile we do the best we can,

@ragingloli That’s why when someone breaks the social contract, they are given opportunities to redeem themselves. Remember it is the consent of the governed. We as a group have decided that people who break laws must face consequences. If you feel otherwise, you have the right to try to convince the rest of us that suffrage should not be suspended or taken away from felons. Until that happens it will just be your opinion.

Sidebar. I would be more likely to return the vote to someone who killed once in a fit of rage than to someone who spent his life selling drugs, stealing cars or grabbing old ladies’ purses

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

While I am a strong proponent of civil rights and favour legal and prison reform, I can see the justification for curtailing the right of prisoners to vote. In the case of sentences of less than two years, I would consider allowing prisoners to vote as a means of keeping them involved in the society to which they will likely soon return.

I think we need to reduce the crime rates among elected officials!

ragingloli's avatar

@galileogirl
I do not have to convince you and it is not just my opinion. It is the law in Germany and other civilised countries.

galileogirl's avatar

Yeah ya do in the US and good luck lol

Blondesjon's avatar

If you killed, raped, or even simply stole from someone you didn’t give two shits, at the time, about your victim’s right to not be killed, raped, or stolen from. You also didn’t give two shits about society’s rules as a whole, at the time.

Therefore, fuck you, you should be limited to only voting for group showers only once a week.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Convicted felons cannot vote.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Yeah… You know, I’m with @Blondesjon on this one. Why should someone who broke the law (I’m talking about things like rape and murder – not something as stupid as smoking weed) be able to vote about laws? Does not make sense to me. No one is saying they can’t ever vote again. Once they’re back in society, they should have every right to vote – because they’re a part of it once again.

In prison for life? No way in hell should they be allowed to vote. Voting while serving time? Nope, not for that either – unless it was a very minor offense.

Leanne1986's avatar

I think I agree with @Captain_Fantasy and @jbfletcherfan. Although I’m not 100% sure where I stand on this one I am leaning towards thinking that, like @jbfletcherfan said, they gave up certain “rights” when they decided to break the law and potentially (depending on what they did) affect the lives of other people when they did it.

thriftymaid's avatar

I believe that while incarcerated felons should not have the right to vote. I also believe that right should be reinstated when the prison term has ended.

bootonthroat's avatar

Felons are a little bit like elderly-drivers. Felons should be allowed to vote but everyone is better off if they are now allowed to.

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