A wave of surprise and pleasure washed over me (imagine Anne Widdecombe getting her end away) when I found an example of the House of Commons behaving in the public interest rather then a self interest.
Yesterday they voted with a majority of 212 to keep the blanket ban on prisoner voting, in defiance of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that deemed the century old exclusion to be illegal.
This, despite the fact that it leaves the government open to a potential black hole of lawsuits from opportunististic prisoners/lawyers hoping to make a few quid.
David Davis put the argument very succinctly:
"The concept is simple, if you break the law you cannot make the law".
It was interesting to note that Jack Straw in 32 years as an MP dealing with hundreds of complaints from his constituents had never received a single letter from an actual prisoner calling for the right to vote from prison. Yet here we are in this ridiculous position where our common sense stance is deemed to be contrary to human rights law.
It's fine to talk about prisoner's human rights but what about the human rights for the old lady getting mugged or the young girl raped? Did the prisoner think about those as he was doing as he pleased. All of the people in prison have unlawfully interfered with the rights of others, they have been convicted and when that happens it is only right that they forfeit some of the hard fought rights they enjoyed as law abiding citizens.
Sandal wearing, tofu eating lefties would have you believe that prisoners reintegration to society should not just happen at the point of release but should be a ongoing process. Fair enough. They have even suggested that giving prisoners the vote would make them less likely to re-offend.
This is complete nonsense. Allowing prisoners to vote doesn't automatically turn them into upstanding members of society. Only effective detterents or succesful rehabilitation will do that. I bet if you gave prisoners the vote less then 5% would even use it anyway.
If I were in charge of the prison system I would make prisons cold, hard, unpleasant places to be. Think Midnight Express. Luxuries would be non-existant and prisoners would have to work to earn enough money to feed themselves. I would encourage learning and skills for successful reintegration into society but I would make damn sure anyone entering the prison system would be left with an indelible impression of horror at the thought of returning.
Actually sod that. In this era of austerity perhaps as an additional way of funding their existance we should instigate some sort of Running Man style televsised competition with inmates running through a fiendish maze complete with wild animals and sadistic traps. Any inmate succesfully negotiating the maze with their limbs intact could be awarded luxuries, the vote or even a pardon based on a viewer phone-in sponsored by Millets. I'm sure they would show it on Sky. Failing that, Channel 5.
At the moment prisons are a glorified Pontins for all but the wettest white collar criminal. They are in need of spicing up. Aren't the tax paying public entitled to a bit of Saturday night carnage for their tax dollars?
As a result of some poorly thought out legislation and the steady liberalisation of the criminal justice system the balance of power is moving inexorably in favour of the criminals rather then law abiding citizens.
As for the prisoners being allowed to vote, under my regime the prisoners are going to have to earn it. How's that for reintegration?