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Prisoner voting in the United Kingdom: an empirical study of a contested prisoner right

Jones, Robert and Davies, Gregory 2022. Prisoner voting in the United Kingdom: an empirical study of a contested prisoner right. Modern Law Review 10.1111/1468-2230.12778

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Abstract

Do prisoners’ rights matter? This paper examines this question through a social-legal study of one of the most controversial prisoners’ rights issues of recent decades: prisoner voting. Thousands of prisoners are legally eligible to vote in the United Kingdom. Drawing on a survey of 134 electoral administrators, we explore whether they are exercising that right and the potential barriers to electoral participation which they face. We find that participation among eligible prisoners is extremely low. Further, we identify problems in the administration of prisoner voting rights which may prevent eligible prisoners from voting. In light of these findings, we argue that the scale of prisoner disenfranchisement is likely to be graver than previously thought and open to future legal challenge. The prisoner voting example provides a cautionary tale of the limitations of prisoner rights, both as a measure of existing prison conditions and as tools for transforming them.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: Law
Wales Governance Centre (WGCES)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
K Law > KD England and Wales
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0026-7961
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 November 2022
Date of Acceptance: 28 October 2022
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2022 11:33
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/153957

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