Why human rights for prisoners and even paedos matter


1:00 pm - February 17th 2011

by Robert Sharp    


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First they came for the prisoners.

A few weeks ago, MPs voted to ignore the European Court of Human Rights to keep a full ban on prisoners. Our Prime Minister put blatant populism above politics, declaring that “giving prisoners the vote makes me sick” (even if that means paying £143 million in compensation from the barren public purse).

Then they came for the paedophiles.

This week, we heard that those convicted of sex offences might not have to stay on the sex-offenders register for life. Last year, the Supreme Court ruled that those included on the register should be able to appeal against permanent inclusion on the list, and on Tuesday it rejected a Home Office appeal against the ruling.

There are clear similarities between these two stories. Both present issues where what might be considered the popular and common-sense approach is over-ruled by judges, forcing the Government to do something counter-intuitive.

But both cases are based on good and sober reasons why the judges ruled as they did, and why we should support their decisions.

In the case of prisoners voting, such a change could catalyze the reform of prisons into places that offer better rehabilitation for convicts. Moreover, if a person will be released within the lifetime of a parliament, why shouldn’t they have a say on who will be representing them once they’re out? Similar arguments exist for sex offenders: In cases where a prisoner has been rehabilitated, coming off the sex offenders register might help reintegration.

It is crucial to remember that in both cases, all the courts did was rule against an absolutist approach: No ‘blanket’ ban on prisoners’ votes; and sex offenders have the right to appeal, not an absolute right to come off the register.

The best comparisons for these issues are with parole or bail – you have the right to apply for it, but you might not get it. It is left to magistrates and judges to decide, depending on the actual circumstances.

So there may well be good reasons why extending the rights of some pretty unpleasant people might improve the whole of society, but it is for the penal reform groups to advance that argument.

My concern is how Cameron sets a terrible example, by undermining the European Court, the Convention on Human Rights and its manifestation in British law, the Human Rights Act (HRA). These outbursts are designed to soften MPs and the public into agreeing to a watered-down Bill of Rights that will make our standing as citizens more tenuous.

What the Prime Minister seems to forget, is that Human Rights laws are designed to protect the most hated in our society, not least because these people are sometimes amongst the most vulnerable too.

They are supposed to frustrate our gut reaction. They are meant to be inconvenient.

That the Courts’ rulings have caused outrage is actually a feature of our democracy, and not a bug. Kudos to the 22 MPs who recognised that, and shame on the Prime Minister. By undermining the principle of human rights, he undermines us all.

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About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Civil liberties ,Conservative Party ,Crime

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Reader comments


Isn’t it somewhat ironic that Cameron and Clegg criticised the last Labour government for flouting human rights and now they are doing the same

There is a fundamental difference between defending the rights of people of different races and of those who peacefully advance political views, however objectionable, and the rights of those convicted by an impartial judicial system of offences defined as such by a democratically elected parliament. Trying to blur these distinctions risks losing public sympathy for the whole principle of human rights to the detriment of everyone.

We either have universal suffrage or we don’t – just as we either have human rights or we don’t.

To read the coverage of this issue you’d think prisons were full of liberals and anarchists who would set each other free if they got the vote: the irony is that if they’d probably vote to bring back hanging for ‘nonces’.

@1 tacitus

I suspect it has more to do with the fact that the issues in the OP push so many hot buttons for the Daily Mail reading classes; their faux concern when in opposition soon evaporates when the red mist decends.

It seems to me the larger issue in both cases is the relationship between the executive and the judiciary. Of course those who share Cameron’s feeling of being physically ill about the prospect of prisoners being given the vote will bang on about the dangers of judge made law, and the supremacy of parliament.

Of course if they had any intellectual honesty or moral compass (a long shot I know….) they would also recognise the dangers of a triumphalist parliament trying to brow beat the judiciary in the name of atavistic populism.

In both issues, it would be advisable to follow the pattern in Scotland, France and Germany where it left to the courts to decide these matters based on the evidence of the specific case.

I won’t be holding my breath of course; Cameron will be far too busy playing to the gallery by puking his outrage onto the shoes of the nearest judge.

As Robert rightly says, we don’t have to remove sex offenders from the list – all the ruling says is that they have a right to ask to be removed, that we have to justify them being put on the list. That the case has been misrepresented as the former, alongside the tired ‘criminals rights have been put above those of the public’, is reflective of the idiot state of human rights discourse in this country.

It is long past time that our beloved leaders stood up and said very firmly, you are misapprehending these cases, they do not think what you think they mean, they mean this, and you won’t be in any more danger than before.

I think it’s quite dangerous for a Prime Minister to say things like, “how completely offensive it is, once again, to have a ruling by a court that flies in the face of common sense”, and “it is about time we ensured that decisions are made in this Parliament rather than in the courts.”

As Larry Flynt memorably pointed out when the Supreme Court upheld his case on First Amendment grounds.

“If the law will protect a scumbag like me then you can be sure it will protect you”.*

*Words to that effect rather.

I suspect it has more to do with the fact that the issues in the OP push so many hot buttons for the Daily Mail reading classes; their faux concern when in opposition soon evaporates when the red mist decends.

Indeed – I’m amazed that nobody’s yet managed to dredge a hook-handed paedophile suspected of terrorism who says he’s going to vote for the Muslim Brotherhood out of the woodwork yet.

Forlornehope – The Man On The Clapham Omnibus doesn’t *need* human rights law. He’ll be alright, Jack. The people who need their human rights defended are precisely the people who’re simultaneously 100% at the mercy of the state and 100% loathed by the general public – because they’re the people most likely to actually get them infringed. If the “whole principle of human rights” means anything, it means that.

Tim’s quote is highly relevant. Also relevant:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

BTW, I’m afraid I obejct to the headline:

“Why human rights for even paedos and prisoners matter”

That “even” shouldn’t be there. “Especially” instead.

Human rights matter even more for those the mob would quite happily hang from the nearest lamp post or lock up and throw away the key. That’s what they’re for, to make sure that the mob cannot just turn on whoever they don’t like this week.

“We either have universal suffrage or we don’t – just as we either have human rights or we don’t.”

We restrict the vote to people aged 18 and over. Are children not human? We don’t let foreign nationals vote in national elections even if they are fully participating in British society. We make a judgement, through impartial rules as to who can vote. It is not universal, nor could it ever be.

I always believed that the ECHR came out of work done after WWII to ensure that Europe didn’t go down the fascist / racist route again. This was necessary because however good (or less bad than the rest) democracy is minorities need to be defended from the majority. Both Hitler and Mussolini came to power via democracy – even if they destroyed it once power was gained.
European Human Rights (mainly drafted by the British) are the guardians against descending the slippery slope to totalitarianism. So on that basis however disagreeable, unpopular and even counter intuitive these rulings are they need to be adhered to.
Frankly on a practical basis they will have zero affect. Few prisoners will exercise their right to vote, and as they won’t be courted by politicians or make up a significant block their votes will have little effect. All paedophiles are getting is a chance for someone to review their inclusion on the register; the unreformed will not be taken off, and it will be a positive for truly reformed individuals to work towards.
I get the awful feeling this is just a political smokescreen.

“If the First Amendment will protect a scumbag like me, it will protect all of you. ”

Apologies, JohnB shamed me into bothering to look up the correct quote.

Intersting that you lose your rights to vote, but you keep your right to practice religion.

Which does the least harm? …………. I would have thought voting does much less harm than letting the crim think he is talking to God, and convincing himself that the imaginary cloud man told him to do it.

Liberty under the law means you are left alone until you break the law, at which point you lose your liberty for a time. Everyone is equal before the law and everyone gets due process in a court with a jury. The law is laid out in advance and can be changed through the legislative process, which is open and accountable.

‘Human rights’ are a made-up concept invented by idle lawyers.

Voting is not a human right. As is so often confused by so many on the liberal left, it is a CIVIL right. It is thus conferred on people by the laws of the land. It is granted to an individual by citizenship, and is not unalienable or transferrable, unlike free speech etc.

If it were a human right there would be no real reason why children shouldn’t have the vote, for example…

As such, this argument that voting is some form of human right is simply the wrong one. You can argue for it as a civil right, but parliament decides the laws of the land.

Human rights matter even more for those the mob would quite happily hang from the nearest lamp post

Indeed. Which makes me wonder why politicians, of all people, seem so eager to get rid of them…

@ Sally

So you don’t believe in freedom to practice religion?

Sally meet facism, facism, meet Sally.

And this from the person always going on about “tory brownshirts”

We don’t let foreign nationals vote in national elections even if they are fully participating in British society.

Well, except for Irish, Australians, Canadians, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, South Africans. But I agree, everyone with permanent leave to remain should get the vote, as should all resident EU nationals.

We make a judgement, through impartial rules as to who can vote. It is not universal, nor could it ever be.

But on prisons, we expressly didn’t: nobody ever made a judgement and no such law was ever passed. We just physically prevented them from going to the polling stations, due to being in prison. And as anyone who’s actually read the ECHR judgement knows, that’s precisely the reason why the prisoner votes thing was considered a problem.

A law which said (in appropriate lawyer-speak) “for all imprisonable offences, an additional sentencing option of deprivation of voting rights for a period not exceeding the maximum prison sentence length will be included. Judges will have discretion over this as for all other punishments, but sentencing guidelines will assume that outside of special circumstances, this will normally be exercised for a period of the same length as any custodial sentence imposed, and will not normally be exercised if no custodial sentence is imposed” would have been A-OK. The court objected to the lack of process, not the result.

Tyler, that doesn’t make any sense. The right to free speech and the right to express yourself at the ballot box are a) very similar b) both completely artificial constructs closely associated with Western liberalism that most societies at most times haven’t had.

And we don’t grant kids the right to free speech, anyway (or freedom of religion, or half the things that your ridiculous fake distinction purports to include…)

@14: Far from being “a made-up concept invented by idle lawyers”, human rights, as codified in the UDHR, ECHR, and HRA, are the means by which equality before the law and due process are protected.

You might find it interesting to actually read the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, particularly Section 1, before you make a tit of yourself in public again.

As John B has pointed out, the problem here is that the punishment in question (the loss of voting rights) was not “laid out in advance”, and in fact currently has no legal basis whatsoever.

Isn’t it a violation human rights to lock them up in the first place? Lets just ask people convicted of crime not to do it again and this might help reintegration.

I too agree on votes for prisoners and a reform of the sex offenders register. However, unlike the average smug independent reader, I would not reduce this to a conflict between good democratic politics on the one hand and “gut reactions” – as the OP put it – on the other. There are coherent political reasons why many would oppose votes for prisoners – i.e. the perception of democracy as a social compact, from which convicts have removed themselves.

It is also complicated by the involvement of the ECHR, given its lack of legitimacy, and given that the democratic branches of our state have no way of balancing their power.

Just a different point of view on votes for prisoners.
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/10203/

Now admittedly, human rights-spouting critics of the ban on prisoners voting are all too aware of precedent, relentlessly pointing out just how antediluvian the prisoner-voting bar is, given that it stretches back in various forms to the medieval idea of ‘civic death’. But what is rarely pointed out is that this bar is not just a long-term staple of establishment thinking. In fact, virtually every anti-establishment struggle to expand the franchise, from the Levellers through to the Chartists and later to the Suffragettes, not only paid no attention to the voting rights of prisoners, but often explicitly denied them.

That point of view persuades me more than those people who go straight to calling anyone who didn’t go along with the votes-for-prisoners idea, as being rabid populists of the Richard Littlejohn variety. I thought it was a bit of a non-issue myself.

Not so the thing about sex offenders. There, I think there should be the chance of someone coming off the register after some time.

Isn’t it a violation human rights to lock them up in the first place?

No:

“Article 5 – Right to liberty and security

1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
1. the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
2. the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;
3. the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;
4. the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;
5. the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;
6. the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.”

#15 is correct, voting is a civil, not human, right

There are coherent political reasons why many would oppose votes for prisoners – i.e. the perception of democracy as a social compact, from which convicts have removed themselves.

Then people who hold that position should make their case and, should they win, pass appropriate legislation. Nobody’s saying we have to give prisoners the vote, they’re saying we can’t deprive prisoners of the vote without first passing some legislation to that effect.

But on prisons, we expressly didn’t: nobody ever made a judgement and no such law was ever passed.

May I suggest you have a look at the Representation of the People Act 1983? Try clause 3 (1).

A convicted person during the time that he is detained in a penal institution in pursuance of his sentence is legally incapable of voting at any parliamentary or local government election

I think that this provision has been in four or five separate Acts of Parliament in the last 100 years or so (RPA 83 is a consolidatory Act). It also specifies certain types of prisoners (those imprisoned for contempt of court) who are not barred from voting.

I’ve never quite understood why people are saying that this is both a blanket ban and one which hasn’t been properly debated. It’s neither.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1983/2/enacted

@14 Benny

The concept of human rights has rather more to it than a cynical work creation enterprise for lawyers, much as it might pain tub thumping opponents of the ECHR to learn. Modern conceptions of human rights are pretty firmly grounded in ideas formulated in the age of the enlightenment, altho even many of these can be traced further back in history.

Discussions about the rights of South American natives in the 16th century, natural rights in the 18th century, the US Declaration of Independence, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man didn’t appear in a vacuum; they were grounded in centuries of discourse about liberty and the rights of the individual as diverse as habeaus corpus in the common law, due process, Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath to name but a few.

Your dismissal of human rights as a concept isn’t just intellectually lazy, it’s historically ignorant.

29. Robin Levett

@Nick #10:

“We restrict the vote to people aged 18 and over. Are children not human? We don’t let foreign nationals vote in national elections even if they are fully participating in British society. We make a judgement, through impartial rules as to who can vote. It is not universal, nor could it ever be.”

Each of the exceptions you cite have their basis in rational arguments; presumed maturity of judgment, and the fact that non-citizens don’t have the same stake in our society that citizens do, respectively.

What is your rationale for removing the right to vote from a subset of criminals? I have heard the “broken contract with society” argument, but even that is only a starting point. Even as a starting point, it is pretty weak; you don’t have to commit a crime to “break your contract with society”.

Even if that argument is accepted, why should not every motoring offender have his right to vote removed? Why only some? Why do some people convicted of driving without insurance have their right to vote removed, while others don’t? Why do some fit and healthy people have their right to vote removed, while others convicted of the same crime, but who are able to convince the court they are unwell (I’m looking at Ernie Saunders here), retain that right?

30. Robin Levett

Hmm – when I started that comment it would have been #12…

Anyhoo:

@ Tim J #27:

“I’ve never quite understood why people are saying that this is both a blanket ban and one which hasn’t been properly debated. It’s neither.”

Half-right; it was debated, and is in RoPA. It is however a blanket ban applying to prison inmates, as your citation makes clear; there is no separate considerattion of whether it is appropriate to remove the right to vote at the same time as removing the right to liberty. There is no rationale beyond “Well, if they’re in prison they shouldn’t have the right to vote” – which rather avoids the question. The rule as its stands means that Ernie Saunders regained the right not because his crime was considered to be less serious than that of Parnes and Ronson -the fact that his prison sentence was far longer than theirs suggests the contrary – but because he managed to convince the judge he was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

31. the a&e charge nurse

[29] “the exceptions you cite have their basis in rational arguments” – like being old enough to get married, or raise a child, but not old enough to vote?

This significant population have not broken any laws yet they have no say in which public school boy should be calling the political shots – perhaps 16 & 17 year olds are simply not sexy enough as a social sub-group?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/06/public-schools-conservatives-education-policy

32. Robin Levett

@Galen10 #28:

It’s particularly interesting that Straw and Davies should cast their opposition to prisoner’s rights in terms of the social contract. Certainly for Rousseau so far as I understand him, it is difficult to see that the removal of voting rights could be a legitimate penalty. The social contract he espoused was founded upon the expression of the will of the people by voting. Imprisonment could be justified – but removal of voting rights would interefere with the operation of the social contract.

33. Chaise Guevara

Someone writing in to Metro today made the very good point (apologies if someone said this already) that laws are not set in stone, and that the people convicted of arguably unjust laws are the ones with the biggest interest in changing them.

So anyone currently in jail for, say, possession of cocaine might very well feel that the law that convicted them is unfair and want to vote for a party that would change that. The same would be true of those serving time for sodomy a few decades ago.

So the whole “they made their choice” idea seems to assume two things: first, that lawful always means good and unlawful always means bad; and second, that we can automatically declare someone to be separated from society just because they broke one of its laws.

If prisoners really are no longer part of society, I’m not sure why we force them to stay within society’s boundaries and obey its rules rather than exiling them. Also, the argument against prisoners voting seems to boil down to “why should they?”, which is hardly enough justification for removing someone’s democratic rights.

34. Robin Levett

@the a&e charge nurse #31:

“This significant population have not broken any laws yet they have no say in which public school boy should be calling the political shots – perhaps 16 & 17 year olds are simply not sexy enough as a social sub-group?”

Decent point – but where the line is drawn is the subject of legitimate debate. The point of the objection to withdrawal of prisoner’s voting rights is that there is no underlying rationale; the decision to imprison someone takes account of a large number of factors, very few of which are particularly relevant to whether the proposed inmate should on an objective analysis be allowed to vote.

35. the a&e charge nurse

[33] “So anyone currently in jail for, say, possession of cocaine might very well feel that the law that convicted them is unfair and want to vote for a party that would change that” – sadly none of them have the balls to decriminalise class A’s.

For those didn’t have a drug problem before being banged up chances are they WILL have one by the time they are released.

36. Chaise Guevara

@ 31 a&e

“This significant population have not broken any laws yet they have no say in which public school boy should be calling the political shots – perhaps 16 & 17 year olds are simply not sexy enough as a social sub-group?”

I would probably back a motion to create a single age of adulthood at which you could drive, sign contracts, drink, join the army etc., but surely you agree that we have to draw the line somewhere, as young children cannot be expected to look after themselves properly? The problem you mention isn’t that we draw a line in the sand, it’s that we draw several differing lines in the sand, ending up with stupid situations where your income can be taxed but you can’t vote on how it’s spent.

37. Robin Levett

@Benny #14:

“Everyone is equal before the law and everyone gets due process in a court with a jury.”

Where did you get these silly ideas from? Why should everyone be equal before the law; or get due process? What indeed is due process?

38. Chaise Guevara

@ 35 a&e

“sadly none of them have the balls to decriminalise class A’s”

The Lib Dems supported it for awhile, back in the easy days when it didn’t matter. In fact, I think I ended up deciding to vote for them in a local election because the Labour opposition put up a shitty straw-man argument against that policy. Something along the lines of “The Lib Dems want to legalise heroin. Your Labour candidate thinks heroin is bad for you.”

Half-right; it was debated, and is in RoPA. It is however a blanket ban applying to prison inmates, as your citation makes clear; there is no separate considerattion of whether it is appropriate to remove the right to vote at the same time as removing the right to liberty.

It’s not though – there are two types of inmate who are specifically excluded from the ban: “a person dealt with by committal or other summary process for contempt of court” and “a person detained for default in complying with his sentence shall not be treated as detained in pursuance of the sentence”.

That’s a very limited exception, but it is an exception.

40. Robin Levett

@Tim J #39:

“It’s not though – there are two types of inmate who are specifically excluded from the ban: “a person dealt with by committal or other summary process for contempt of court” and “a person detained for default in complying with his sentence shall not be treated as detained in pursuance of the sentence”.

That’s a very limited exception, but it is an exception.”

Neither case is an exception to the blanket ban on all prison inmates who are there by virtue of their having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment following their conviction of a criminal offence, which is the subject matter of the discussion. (Not even those committed to prison by summary process for contempt).

While it is perhaps understandable that both the Government and Opposition front benches chose to abstain in the Commons vote, it is surely of great concern that so many Labour MPs voted for the motion to continue to deny prisoners a vote. I think it again illustrates that on social and libertarian issues large sections of the Labour Party have more in common with right-wing Tories than they care to admit.

@ 41 Graham

It is of concern, but surely it is no great surprise after 1997-2010?

The nauseating spectacle of the the Labour party being outflanked from the left by LD’s and even Tories on certain social and civil liberties issues was one of the things that was hardest to take about New Labour.

Anyone who thinks Labour has changed has cause to be pretty worried; saying that New Labour is dead, and that you have a blank sheet of paper is one thing, proving it is another.

All this just demonstrates this government’s contempt for the rule of law.

@ 43 Chris

Agreed… although in the interests of balance I seem to remember New Labour regularly falling foul of the courts too, not that it seemed to cause them any embarassment or shame more’s the pity!

The London Bombers voting, Brady voting, people who gave up the right to actually live but we do not hang them anymore.

Ok if you have been shop lifting to live because your on £64 a week well ok, but the thought of allowing the London bombers a vote, fills me with a feeling of why the hell bother.

46. Robin Levett

@Fred #45:

“The London Bombers voting, Brady voting, people who gave up the right to actually live but we do not hang them anymore.

Ok if you have been shop lifting to live because your on £64 a week well ok, but the thought of allowing the London bombers a vote, fills me with a feeling of why the hell bother.”

Nothing in the judgment requires this. The whole and only point, as I understand it, is that consideration must be given to whether it is appropriate to remove the right to vote; a blanket ban is inappropriate.

Why should someone who will use their vote for a party avowedly opposed to democracy be allowed a vote? That might equally fill you with a feeling of why the hell bother; but that’s not the test of whether they should have one.

Freedom to vote for whom you want is democracy or have I got that one wrong, having a right to vote for the BNP it’s not banned or have I got that wrong.

But giving prisoners the right to vote depends a lot on the crime, if for example it’s people up wards of three years I may well say OK, but come on the London Bombers Or people like Brady, these people have no rights…..

@47 fred

As pointed out above, it seems the main reason in both cases for the courts finding against the government was the blanket nature of the ban, i.e. it takes no account of individual circumstances.

Much as the gutter press and right wing carpet biters would have us believe otherwise, the hysterical reaction to both decisions betrays the authoritarian, illiberal nature of those arguing against the ECHR and Supreme Court decisions. Some of them may be partially excused because they haven’t bothered to research the details, but it’s obvious that many others are doing so for deeply unpleasant ideological motives.

Well we will see.

@ 49 Fred

We will indeed see; but since our government seems to have no qualms about breaking the law, it behoves us to be pretty sure that there are other bodies (like an independent judiciary say?) to stop them deciding that it is permissable to do anything the hell they like.

It might start with refusing to give any prisoners the vote, withdrawing from the ECHR, overturning decisions of the Supreme Court…. but where do you think it will end?

Obviously some people would be happier if we just let baying lynch mobs hang the worst offenders from lamp-posts in the street, but I’m not sure it’s the kind of society I want.

“idiots” may not vote and “lunatics” only during their lucid periods. Those compulsorily detained in psychiatric hospitals, for example, cannot vote.

I think hanging people is wrong and always will be since our law enforcement has a nasty habit of making up or leaving bits out, to many people have been hung because a copper has decided of a persons guilt.

But on the other hand I think people who take another’s person life, or rape another person, or steal from people like those great Enron chaps deserve to spend time thinking about humanity and if they really do fit in.

And I will back the Tories on this.

I’m getting to like these Tories better and better sadly, I was told to day they are removing at once all lie detectors from the DWP. another point in favour.

I think the automatic assumption that sex offenders = paedophiles should be countered here. I’m surprised and disappointed to see such a lazy, tabloid misrepresentation creep into a supposedly enlightened OP.

An unfortunate teenager who gets carried away and makes a mistake can find themselves on the sex offenders register. Surely that individual should be given the opportunity to prove that they have reformed in their maturity? That is exactly the issue at stake and the judgement has nothing to do with more serious cases where harm and recidivism are far more likely.

@51 Fred

I happen to agree that in many cases sentencing is too light.

I also agree with you about the death sentence.

I couldn’t disagree with you more about liking the Tories, on this or anything else. Indeed the more I hear about them, the more convinced I am that they haven’t really changed; they are the same nasty party they always were, Cameron was just a bit better at hiding it for a while.

What is the “this” you will be backing the Tories on…?

An unfortunate teenager who gets carried away and makes a mistake can find themselves on the sex offenders register.

well yes but that going to be down to a judge some of which can remember queen Victoria for god sake.

But we have to also remember that when one party says no it means no, if that person carries on and finishes the act then sadly thats rape….

I worked with many youths for years within sport and some of the things I had to listen to about girls was pretty shocking, if a girl had sex she was easy meat, if she was young she was a slag.

So I would say we have to be pretty careful about saying somebody is innocent just because he was a teenager.

But if two people at say thirteen agree to sex well thats just the way the world is, but if a girl is twelve and he is sixteen, he should bloody well know better.

.

I happen to agree that in many cases sentencing is too light.

I also agree with you about the death sentence.

I could’t disagree with you more about liking the Tories, on this or anything else. Indeed the more I hear about them, the more convinced I am that they haven’t really changed; they are the same nasty party they always were, Cameron was just a bit better at hiding it for a while.

What is the “this” you will be backing the Tories on…?

Well I spent 46 years in labour through good times and bad times, New labour nobody asked me for this party to go down the route of telling me I was a lier, so they put in lie detectors in benefits offices council offices.

I did not expect labour to lock up children in detention camps, a nice word for them. I did not expect people locked up for 90 days which labour wanted. I did not expect to see CCTV camera on my front door, or I did not expect council bin men to get the right to enter my house because they thought I was fraud without a warrant from a court.
ID cards.
data bases

god I could go on all day

Welfare reforms.

It takes the Tories to tell us DLA will be keot in care homes while labour wanted to stop them

I’m labour not new labour. sadly since labour became a Thatcherite government in some ways, I will be willing to give the real thing a chance.

By the wage I have just had my new benefits rates under the Tories, it the biggest rise in fourteen years.

These issues are being raised in highly prejudicial ways by right wing zealots gunning for the HRA. The reporting is full of hysterical misrepresentation, ranging from the claim that the EU was demanding all prisoners get the vote to foam-flecked visions of all paedophiles being given a license to predate. Obviously, vicitms’ rights groups will seize on these matters as a way of pushing their “eye for an eye”/ rehabilitation is out agenda, but behind them lie even more sinister forces. There are those who resent having to acknowledge and respect the human rights of every single person regardless of sex, country of origin, orientation, class, and picking off the generally loathed creates a useful platform for them. But contempt for the human rights of even one person devalues the human rights of us all, and it must be guarded against. Once we accept that “those people” aren’t properly human, we degrade both the definition of humanity, and the fundamental duty that we all behave humanely to all.

What do you expect a killer demanded the right to vote, he lost then won on appeal, so you have to ask if he won, who will get the vote.

Hirst was the chap who started this off

Bit like telling the country as did Blair that most of the disabled or sick were in fact scroungers, Human rights it seems can be different things for different people

Way to miss the point, Fred old chap.

The point is with all this bull shit, if you love voting so much, then do not do the crime….

But if two people at say thirteen agree to sex well thats just the way the world is, but if a girl is twelve and he is sixteen, he should bloody well know better.

Yes, and he should be punished (I’m not convinced that prison would be an appropriate way to punish the offence in question if he was in love with her and they were dating, but that’s by the by). But the suggestion that he unequivocally ought to still be on a List Of Terrible Perverts when he’s 90 having led a blameless life for the preceding 74 years is frankly insane.

Perhaps that blameless life was due to being on the register, the protection is for other twelve year old children, and perhaps if he was not on the regsiter other twelve year olds might be at risk.

again the secret is keep your zipper done up until she is old enough.

Love is not sex, sex is not love.

@62 you’re not from the Daily Mail are you?

64. Chaise Guevara

@ 60 Fred

“The point is with all this bull shit, if you love voting so much, then do not do the crime….”

Firstly, this sentence doesn’t actually present any argument. I could equally say “If you love voting so much, don’t listen to R&B.”

Secondly, since when is voting supposed to be a pleasure? The point of democracy is that it means politicians can be held to account and that overall policy at least roughly reflects the will of the people. And that means not taking the vote away from people unless you have a damn good reason. “They did something bad” doesn’t seem to cut it.

It’s simple if you love to vote, then do not do the crime, not to hard is it.

Wow, Fred’s brilliant!

67. Chaise Guevara

@ 66 S Pill

I know! Who knew repetition could be used in the place of logic so cleverly?

68. Chaise Guevara

Anyway…

@ 65 Fred

“It’s simple if you love to vote, then do not do the crime, not to hard is it.”

Sigh… you’re describing a system where prisoners cannot vote. Given that the people you’re talking to want a system where prisoners CAN vote, simply describing the opposite system over and over again gets you nothing.

Imagine this:

YOU: I don’t think we should execute people for jaywalking.

ME: If you don’t want to be executed, don’t jaywalk. It’s simple, isn’t it?

See what I mean? You’re not actually addressing anything anyone has said, or putting forward a reason for prisoners to be denied the vote. You’re just chanting a Daily Mailian statement.

The fact still stands it would make me sick down deep to see the bastards who set off or tried to set off bombs in London or have planed to bomb being allowed to vote, to allow a person who has raped children the chance to even think they are human enough to get the vote. To think that Brady would be allowed to vote to give these people even the Chance to vote because somebody says they are human, pay your debt to society and you can vote.

This idea that people who are in jail for three months or six months should get the chance to vote, tell you what, do not put them in jail in the first place.

No sorry if you want to vote and you think it’s that important , do not do the crime.

jail is punishment it’s not supposed to be great.

70. Chaise Guevara

@ 69

“The fact still stands it would make me sick down deep to see the bastards who set off or tried to set off bombs in London or have planed to bomb being allowed to vote, to allow a person who has raped children the chance to even think they are human enough to get the vote. To think that Brady would be allowed to vote to give these people even the Chance to vote because somebody says they are human, pay your debt to society and you can vote.”

Right. Weird stuff about criminals not being human aside, this boils down to “they shouldn’t get to vote because I don’t like them”. That’s not how voting works. I don’t like BNP supporters, but that doesn’t mean they should have the right to vote removed.

“This idea that people who are in jail for three months or six months should get the chance to vote, tell you what, do not put them in jail in the first place.”

Sorry? What’s your problem with 3- or 6-month sentences?

“No sorry if you want to vote and you think it’s that important , do not do the crime.”

There’s an echo in here. Will you stop repeating yourself? It’s weird and annoying. Rest assured that nobody’s going to agree with you just because you’ve turned your belief into a slogan.

“jail is punishment it’s not supposed to be great.”

Again: since when is voting fun?

Echo the bloody echo is you lot telling me it’s about the person who is jay walking or has not paid his TV license most of course would be in an open prison, change the law write to your MP get the people who are in jail for six months out, so they can vote.

But letting the rest to vote, and I do not see Brady and his ilk as human, or the people who planed to bomb people, or the people who kill murder or rape.

Sorry but it’s very simple do the crime pay the price, and the price is your not part of society your removed from society because you have done something.

Yes the echo is loud and I will keep on saying it.

72. Chaise Guevara

“Echo the bloody echo is you lot telling me it’s about the person who is jay walking or has not paid his TV license most of course would be in an open prison, change the law write to your MP get the people who are in jail for six months out, so they can vote.”

Who says it’s about jaywalking? And why would we need to cancel short-term sentences to let people vote? Surely it would be a lot more sensible to let them vote while in prison. Talk about taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

“But letting the rest to vote, and I do not see Brady and his ilk as human, or the people who planed to bomb people, or the people who kill murder or rape.”

So what? I know you find it easier to ignore responses to what you write rather than address them, but I’ll try again: I could pick any group of people and say “I don’t see them as human”, but that wouldn’t justify their vote being taken away. Let’s try it. I declare that I don’t see people who post on LC and call themselves Fred as human. You are now banned from voting. Tough luck, eh?

“Sorry but it’s very simple do the crime pay the price, and the price is your not part of society your removed from society because you have done something.”

The price is “you go to jail”, actually. If you’re not part of society, why is it forcing you to obey its rules and paying for your upkeep? Criminals are actually among the very few people who have no choice but to remain members of society.

“Yes the echo is loud and I will keep on saying it.”

Evidently. God forbid you should actually defend your point. It’s obviously much easier to just keep saying it over and over again like a troll.

73. Chaise Guevara

Also, you STILL haven’t explained what’s so fun about voting.

Thats it you want me to explain whats fun about voting jesus no wonder the country is F*cked

(actually Fred has a point there, I do quite enjoy the act of voting… :/ )

The sad point of the matter is many people see it a burden, I use to look forward to voting.

77. Chaise Guevara

I enjoy voting too, as it happens. But it’s not something you do for the fun of it. Letting prisoners vote isn’t like giving them an Xbox or something.

78. Chaise Guevara

@ 74

“Thats it you want me to explain whats fun about voting jesus no wonder the country is F*cked”

Eh?

79. So Much For Subtlety

“It is crucial to remember that in both cases, all the courts did was rule against an absolutist approach: No ‘blanket’ ban on prisoners’ votes; and sex offenders have the right to appeal, not an absolute right to come off the register.”

So it looks to me as if the judges did nothing but create a huge amount of work for themselves and their colleagues back in Chambers. We are not allowed to have a simple and cheap blanket ban. Nor is the public willing to accept votes for all. So each and every case will have to be fought out over years, all on Legal Aid, thus creating enormous amounts of work for Human Rights lawyers and putting no end of Jacintas through private schools.

Brilliant. I mean who could object to that? Upper Upper Class welfare posing as social reform.

@ 79

The public isn’t being asked to accept votes for all. As has already been pointed out, the problem is not with having a system where “some” categories of prisoner are not allowed to vote, it is that a blanket ban (as well as being morally wrong) has now been held to be illegal.

Grandstanding to the Daily Mail reading classes is one thing, but I’d rather like a government that abided by the rule of law – it’s what makes them, and us, different from the people we lock up isn’t it?

The relative cost will be fairly trivial, and of course you’ll have to offset the costs attendant on continuing to be in breach of the ECHR and our own Supreme Court. The answer is (again, as already stated) rather simple; stop trying to brow-beat the judiciary to satisfy the atavistic desire so many right wingers have to make lynchings a televised event, and allow the courts to decide each case on the basis of the evidence against each individual.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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    Paedos, Prisoners, and Human Rights http://bit.ly/geJBgY

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    RT @sunny_hundal: Why human rights for prisoners and even paedophiles matter, writes @robertsharp59 – http://bit.ly/geJBgY

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