Argument: Prisoners have a right to express interests through voting

Issue Report: Prisoners right to vote


“Q&A: UK Prisoners’ right to vote”. BBC. 6 Oct. 2005 – Q: What led John Hirst to begin his campaign?

Mr Hirst said he began his legal campaign because he believed there was no real way for prisoners to effect change.

“Basically I’d read books that said if you want to change something you start up a pressure group, and then you put pressure on MPs and then you get things changed in parliament.

“Well that’s alright if you’ve got the vote and you’ve got some clout behind you.

“When you’re a prisoner, the only thing you can do if you want to complain and no-one listens, is riot and lift the roof off – which isn’t the best way of going about things.

“Because we didn’t have a vote, there was no will in parliament to change anything,” he said.

“Prison officers would talk to me and say ‘oh you’re a prisoner, you’re less than human’, and all the rest of it , and I said ‘no I’m not, I’m a human being, I’ve got rights,’ and they’d say ‘well, where are they? What are they?’ ”

Anthony Pearson, an imprisoned drug smuggler in the UK: “The ban on prisoners voting means MPs do not have to pay attention to prisons and the issues raised by prisoners. This leads to issues such as the poor state of health care for prisoners being neglected. While I accept that criminals must be punished, I cannot accept that it is just for me to die in custody, or to be denied the rights of others in a democratic society – to vote my MP in or out and to represent me in parliament.”[1]