The election is over, the race was extremely tight, and the new One Bermuda Alliance-led Government begins its journey to represent the people of Bermuda. The OBA leadership often spoke to the need to represent all people, even those who did not vote for them, and CURB hopes that this leadership will include many of the talking points put forward prior to the election in CURB’s Racial Justice Platform. One of those talking points was “Voting rights for those legally detained” specifically CURB believes that denying voting rights to those people who are paying or have paid their debt to society offends basic tenets of democracy.
Why is it that when voting rights for prisoners or those on parole are mentioned, reasonable people become overly irate? Why is it that when a citizen commits a crime against society we demand he forfeits the right to take part in a basic belief of an enlightened democracy; the right to elect our government? Part of the problem is that as a post-slavery, post-segregation society our justice system was and still is based on punitive measures, and that as a society we have internalised punishment as the best method of control. CURB strongly believes that we need to move to a restorative justice approach, which focuses on healing all those affected by the harm crime causes, including the victim, the offenders, their families and the community. In those countries such as Canada and New Zealand where the restorative justice approach has been used, they have seen dramatic decreases in recidivism.
Historically both here and in the United States, the justice system was used during slavery and segregation as a means to control and distribute power. And in Bermuda immediately after Emancipation, legislation was enacted to disenfranchise black Bermudians from voting i.e. an Act (1834) was passed to fix qualifications for jurors, voters, electors and candidates and positions of trust, and the voting qualifications were raised, effectively preventing most black Bermudians from voting and being elected to the House for almost 50 years until 1883 when William ER Joell became the first Black MCP. With a legacy of voter disenfranchisement and the justice system that supported it, we must unequivocally seek to uphold the right for one man one vote.
Full Article: Let inmates keep the right to vote | Bermuda Opinion.