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Voters should not be in prison!: the rights of prisoners in a democracy

Ramsay, Peter (2013) Voters should not be in prison!: the rights of prisoners in a democracy. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 16 (3). pp. 421-438. ISSN 1369-8230

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In Hirst v UK, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK must end its blanket ban on convicted prisoners voting. In this paper I argue that the court’s reasoning undermines collective political self-determination by assuming away the essential connection between political citizenship and civil liberty in a representative democracy. I outline a democratic theory of imprisonment and argue that the democratic citizenship of imprisoned offenders is suspended not by their disenfranchisement but by their imprisonment. While many aspects of the UK’s penal practice are inconsistent with democratic self-government, the voting ban is not one of them. I conclude by outlining the numerous rights that prisoners should enjoy in a democracy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Taylor & Francis
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JX International law
Sets: Departments > Law
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2012 11:05

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