Ministers in climbdown over prisoner vote
originally by: BBC News
20th January 2011
The government is preparing to scale back plans to allow prisoners jailed for under four years to have the vote. Ministers, who proposed law changes after a European Court of Human Rights ruling, now hope to limit the right to those sentenced to shorter terms, but have yet to agree at what level. However, they say they are aware this policy could be tested in the courts and that they might lose again.
The initial voting plans faced strong opposition from Conservative MPs. David Cameron himself recently said giving inmates the vote made him feel “ill” but warned at the time that the government faced paying out more than £160m in compensation if it did not do so.
Ministers proposed changing the law on voting rights for convicted prisoners, who are currently all banned from voting, following a ruling by the European court dating from 2004 that was upheld the following year.
John Hirst, a prisoner convicted of manslaughter, successfully argued that his human rights had been violated by not being allowed to take part in elections.
The government had indicated it was prepared to grant voting rights to all prisoners serving under four years.