Letter: Should we be allowing prisoners the right to vote? (Update)

Reader Ron Chonner urges readers to write to the their MP about the prospect of prisoners being allowed to vote

Prison bars

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers. This one from Lake resident Ron Chonner. Ed

Dear Editor

I am writing to express my concern over the possibility of convicted criminals being given the right to vote.

It seems obvious that should this be granted, these same convicts will surely be granted the vote in local elections too. And, given the large number of such convicts imprisoned here this, I believe, will have alarming implications for the Isle of Wight.

They’ll vote to relieve the boredom
For we can expect, I suggest, that 100% of these criminals will turn out to vote, if only to relieve the boredom of their lives and perhaps get them an extra half hour out of their cells.

In sharp contrast to the general lack-lustre turn-out by the rest of the Island’s population.

And further, let us bear in mind that the lives and well-being of the inhabitants of our prisons lies less with the guards and more with the handful of master criminals who wield the real power inside the walls.

Influenced by master criminals
Master criminals who can, if they so wish, instruct everyone on how to vote and who to vote for.

Thus we face the nightmare prospect of our local services, and indeed our very lives, being under the direct control of some anonymous (to us) master mind, who will surely manipulate us to suit his own evil ends.

We must put a stop to this before it is too late.

Write to your MP before we find ourselves suffering the awful consequences.

Yours, Ron Chonner, Lake

Facebook reaction
Update 4.Dec.12
Lots of discussion on this on Facebook, brought here for non-FB readers.

FB reaction to Ron Chonner prisoner’s vote story

Storified by · Tue, Dec 04 2012 04:40:54

noDerek Ragnar Rowell
if they have taken the rights of another away then they have no right of there own… although sadly it doesnt work that way anymoreJack Apple Orchard
No they are in their to be striped of thease kinds of rightsStoidi Gnikcuf
depends on what the individual is in for and for how long ,they will only be dis-enfranchised if there is an election whilst they are in prison , unfortunate to be inside on that dayAllan James Marsh Lrps
Yes we should abide by the EU law as long as we are a member. Disenfranchisement can’t really help with the rehabilitation of offenders can it?Andy Roberts
what like all the other countries abide by EU law?Jack Apple Orchard
plenty of mp’s ceo’s and other "pillars" of society , commit crime making them criminals but as we have seen , these people rarely pay for it …. till they are dead . take away andrew turners vote for a startStephen Smith
remember guys jimmy savile had the vote , not sure if i want it anymore nowStephen Smith
If big banking businesses bribed, bullied or sexually blackmailed our politicians into creating laws locking up huge swathes of everyday folk, as well as those who complained about it, who would be left to vote them out of power. Don’t rely on the little squeaky mice who never had the courage to stand up in the first place.David Craddock
I can’t help but say this. That letter is bloody ridiculous. And comments like" Taking the rights of others away". Not everyone in prison is a murderer or a sex offender. Some people need to open their eyes to the world around them, and realise, you can’t put a whole group of people into the same category.Paul Newton
I miss my naive years when I thought politicians were actually working for the good of the population as a whole.David Craddock
what so you think that some crime is victim less even people who are put into prison for ‘minor’ offences are hurting someone somewhere down the line i think maybe you need to open your eyesJack Apple Orchard
lol , we live in britain , all our luxury is stolen .Stephen Smith
I obviously don’t agree. Although I should of thought it through properly before I used a comment from someone else’s post. And for that I apologise. Our country is starting to infringe on human rights, and I guess I don’t like it. Not here to troll, just have my own opinion on our weakening views of human rights. P.s I don’t know anyone in prison.Paul Newton
look at the demographic of prisons and you will find a huge amount of under privilaged and along with them a whole bunch of disadvantaged including those with "learning disabilities" , these guys can’t afford the lawyers that the rich can afford . look at the sentances dished out for low level petty crime and then look at the ceo of the bopal plant in india . the list is endless .Stephen Smith
No what people have got to remember is to get the vote you may have tn do jury services if you are in prison how can they do thatYvonne Sellman
Prisoners shouldnt be allowed to vote,all their rights should be taken away,doesnt really matter what theyve done,they are in prison for a reasonDarren Preston-Ward
i wish my world were black and white like yours , really do , it would be much simpler . unfortunately i have opened my eyes and your simplistic approach makes me feel like the human race is not capable of managing this or indeed any other debate . how can a rich person rape children and the cps do nothing , yet a poor person steals a bit and is imprisoned . i have stated my views on this previously , every law must be obayed and every law broken must be punished . if we lack the will to enforce a law completely then the law should be changed , similarly if a new social problem arises , laws must be made to keep up with the times . this system we have now is just laughable .Stephen Smith
If we hope to re-integrate prisoners after they have paid their penalty for whatever law they broke, we need to give them some sign that they are progressively regaining their rights and responsibilities. Painful as it obviously is for some people, thi…See MoreChris Wilmott
Why not? It won’t make any difference to the outcome of the election as prisoners are not all of the same political leaning.Steve Smith

Image: Trishalyn under CC BY 2.0

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Saturday, 1st December, 2012 10:13am


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  1. No- the UK (unwritten) Constitution denies the votes to lords, lags and loonies- each category having willingly sacrificed that right or are incapable of exercising it. It should stay that way.

  2. Interesting notion from Cynic. There are several arguments with respect to this question.

    1 The person, by contavening the laws of the land, has forfeited his/her right as a citizen to any say in its governance.

    2 The person may be in prison but is being punished for the transgression and is still a citizen. By refusal of the vote they are, in effect being punished twice.

    3 What of those who are on remand at the time of the vote? They are in prision but have not been foung guilty of the offence. Are their rights being transgressed?
    Suppose they have been stopped for drunk driving and are in a cell until all preliminaries have been completed. Are they not allowed a vote?

    On the other hand one may take the view that if a person is in prision for whatever reason, they are in no different position than if they were in hospital or abroad on holiday during the election.

  3. Civil prisoners sentenced (for non-payment of fines, or contempt of court, for example), and those on remand unsentenced retain the right to vote.

  4. Mr Einsteins Ghost

    1.Dec.2012 12:28pm

    Sorry Ron – Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the issue, your claims are so over-dramatic and seriously verging on the hysterical! I genuinely thought this must be some sort of spoof at first!

    • “……we face the nightmare prospect of our local services, and indeed our very lives, being under the direct control of some anonymous (to us) master mind, who will surely manipulate us to suit his own evil ends….”
      Is Blofeld incarcerated in Camp Hill? Don’t send for Turner but for 007.

  5. microdemus

    1.Dec.2012 12:43pm

    I think your reader may be a French verb.

  6. as in allthings its not a simple yes or no. A simple solution is that prisoners should be allowed to vote as long as they stay on the lectoral role at their last residence..if they do, they get a postal vote.

    Thus prisoners on sentances of 3 years or less will be allowed to apply for a postal vote (if they can be bothered)

    Prisoners of over 3 years will have been taken off of the electoral roll (if not continued) thus would loose the vote.

  7. Don Smith

    1.Dec.2012 5:54pm

    No! It would be far too costly. Tell the ECJ to get…I do not jest.

  8. Don Smith

    1.Dec.2012 6:22pm

    If they must vote. Let’s make it a postal vote; just like the old dears in the care homes, and the non taxpayers living overseas.

    Very few prisoner have made the effort to register to vote prior to their convictions.

  9. Give them the vote and create an virtual constituency, centered somewhere in the north sea, for them all. The inmates (sorry,Citizens) can them vote for their choice, which should include Denis MacShane and other recently discredited MP’s. Keep all the rogues in one bag.

  10. steephilljack

    2.Dec.2012 11:28am

    I thought this was a spoof too. Sounded a bit like a dig at the Leader of our County Council, but at least we do know his name:
    “……we face the nightmare prospect of our local services, and indeed our very lives, being under the direct control of some anonymous (to us) master mind, who will surely manipulate us to suit his own evil ends….”

    And…”Master criminals who can, if they so wish, instruct everyone on how to vote and who to vote for”.
    Calling him a ‘Master criminal” is going as bit far IMO.

  11. Mark L Francis

    3.Dec.2012 1:51am

    I don’t really have a problem with prisoners or “loonies” (not currently a recognised term under the International Classification of Diseases 10th ed.) voting, so long as they do not all vote in the Isle of Wight or other constituencies with a large prison population.
    My suspicion is that they would predominately vote Tory.

    I believe it is Lootenant Ohls in “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler who tells Marlowe ” The only difference between crime and business is for business you gotta have capital”. For example; Noel Coward as “Mr Bridger” in “The Italian Job” – or Genial Harry Grout.

    • Quite right Mark, those in prision are only there because society’s notion of their actions is deemed unacceptable: whereas other equally antisocial behaviour is considered acceptable. Example:-

      I once worked in the offices of a factory. From time to time, someone would be sacked for stealing stock from the warehouse; the notion being the person was stealing from the employer.

      Each Monday morning an office junior was sent to the cashier by the Managing Director’s secretary. The junior’s job was to take £30 (my manager’s salary was approximately £30 a week at the time, I was on £7 a week) and go to the tobacconist. There she would buy cigarettes and cigars to fill the directors’ silver cigarette and cigar cases.

      The directors, who were the employees of the shareholders, had no qualms about the theft of shareholders’ profit/dividends for their own pleasure.

      • Not quite! People are incarcerated because they have transgressed society’s “notion” (as you call it) as represented by laws passed democratically (or near enough). In the absence of such laws, societal retribution would be by lynch mobs. If you think the “notion” is wrongly reflected in law, you can influence the change.

        On the other hand you are correct in that there are unacceptable societal behaviours not captured by the laws because of undue influence exercised by powerful people with vested interests in not being caught

        Thus it in unlikely that Parliament will pass a law that imprisons MPs for embezzling their expenses. The same thing goes for finance and energy industries (and at least one budget airline) who rip off their customers.

        “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others!” (Orwell’s 1984)

        • Agreed Cynic, but all laws start out as notions. That’s why we have jurisprudence. At the moment, taking goods from the warehouse is theft but the notion of using shareholders’ money to buy fags also being considered as theft is still up for debate.

          • As is using company stationery (pencils, paper clips, post-its etc) for private purposes, making phone calls using company phones, garages inflating prices on insurance claims, quietly reducing the weight of sweets in a tin on Q** Street but keeping the price the same, public sector entertainments paid out of taxpayer funds …. and so on.

            Where should the line be drawn?

  12. Robert Jones

    15.Dec.2012 12:06pm

    Didn’t look at this thread because I thought it would be full of retired colonels spluttering indignantly into their whisky and soda, but the Isle of Wight has obviously changed. Years ago, there would have been committees set up, Col Hang’em McFloggem elected as chairman (I’ve nothing against colonels, really: I know several very nice colonels…) to counter this Threat to Those Democratic Values we Hold Most Dear….

    Of course the majority of prisoners should be allowed to vote; specific prohibitions might be enacted against murderers, maybe. But it would do no harm; nor would it cost much. Persuading them to actually vote, now – that’s another question altogether.

  13. prewitt parrot

    15.Dec.2012 4:24pm

    Yes criminals should be allowed to vote, politicians break the law as well but they can afford rich mans justice

  14. @PP “Yes criminals should be allowed to vote,”

    …….. and go to polling stations outside the nicks unaccompanied? Of course they will keep their promise to return after doing the civic duty! :-))

    It would be against their human rights to insist they use a postal vote, wouldn’t it? :-))

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