“I was in prison on the day of an election. I posted a mocked-up ballot paper into the wing postbox. It was utterly pointless of course, but I was just looking to make a point,” an anonymous former inmate told the Guardian. Despite finding yet again that the UK continues to violate prisoners’ rights to participate in elections, the European court of human rights (ECHR) declined to order compensation to 1,015 UK prisoners on Tuesday. “I broadly agree with ECHR’s ruling: can you really ever put a monetary value on the loss of this human right? “It troubles me. You would hope that the fact it’s illegal would put pressure on the government to address it, but I feel the right wing are just using this to show how out of touch the European Court is,” he said.
The coalition government is not planning to take any further action on prisoner voting before the general election in May. The Conservative party, if it wins the election, has threatened to withdraw from the European convention on human rights if the court is unwilling to agree to its approach. The party’s policy will be to treat judgments from the Strasbourg court merely as advisory.
“The ban on prisoners voting is left over from the Victorian system of pointless punishment that doesn’t achieve anything for those in the system, but seems good to those outside of it. I would have voted had I been able to. It felt frustrating to lose my right to vote. Having a vote makes you a participant; being denied it meant I could only watch. Allowing prisoners to vote could be a worthwhile attempt at getting those who feel removed from society to participate in a more law-abiding way. Taking responsibility, in many different ways, is surely part of rehabilitation?” he said.