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Citizen convictsPrisoners, politics and the vote$
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Cormac Behan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088384

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088384.001.0001

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Citizenship by civic virtue?

Citizenship by civic virtue?

(p.7) 1 Citizenship by civic virtue?
Citizen convicts

Cormac Behan

Manchester University Press

The cases for and against voting rights for prisoners have been widely examined in academic literature and political discourse. It is widely accepted that even in the most advanced liberal democracies there are limitations on the right to vote, depending on citizenship, age, mental competency and residency. What should these limitations be and who should decide on them? In the case of prisoners, should the withdrawal of the franchise be determined by a judge, decided on by the executive with legislative approval or settled by the people? Should the denial of the vote be a collateral consequence of imprisonment or part of the penalty for breaking the law? Should prisoners be denied the right to vote at all? The arguments for and against the enfranchisement of prisoners yield a number of insights into the objectives of imprisonment, the desire for penal reform, the complexities of citizenship and what restrictions, if any, there should be on participation in a democratic polity.

Keywords:   Civic Death, Social Contract, Democratic Representation, Voting Rights, Punishment

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