Campaign under way to re-enfranchise prisoners

Georgina Lock

Voluntary organisations hit the election campaign trail this week by launching a bid to give prisoners the right to vote.

The Prison Reform Trust and Unlock, the association of ex-offenders, joined forces with MPs, church leaders and prison reformers at the launch of what they are calling the Barred from Voting campaign.

They came together at the House of Commons on Monday to call for a review of the 135-year-old law that strips people of their right to vote when in prison.

"Giving prisoners the vote is a question of moral conscience, not one of political conscience," said Unlock chief executive Bobby Cummines.

"If prisoners are excluded from voting, then we don't have a democratic society - we are just paying lip service to one."

The UK is one of only eight European countries that, under existing law, disenfranchise sentenced prisoners automatically.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said she could not see the justification for denying prisoners the vote. "This is an important litmus test as to whether we really value human rights in society," she said.

Politicians including Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy have also voiced their support.

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