Prisoners `should be given the vote'

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The Independent Online
Labour clashed with the TUC yesterday over its decision to call for votes for prisoners, writes Barrie Clement.

Despite bitter opposition from some delegates, Congress decided by almost two votes to one that jailed criminals should be enfranchised. Jack Straw, shadow Home Secretary, said Labour disagreed with the plan and there was no question of its policy changing. "Prison involves the loss of liberty and that includes loss of the vote.".

Geoff Saunders, of the Amalgamated Electrical and Engineering Union, who spoke against the motion, later said that prisoners would inevitably opt for candidates who were soft on crime. "How can we say that people like Myra Hindley and Ian Brady should have the right to vote? What is Ian Brady going to vote when it comes to the rights of children? It's a mockery," he said.

Jo Thompson, of the National Association of Probation Officers, told delegates that prisons were not full of people who had committed murder, rape or child abuse, only about 3,000 of the 50,000-strong prison population had been responsible for such crimes, she said. "There are people who are the victims of crime as well as the perpetrators."