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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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Political change, penal continuity and prisoner enfranchisement

Political change, penal continuity and prisoner enfranchisement

(p.61) 3 Political change, penal continuity and prisoner enfranchisement
Citizen convicts

Cormac Behan

Manchester University Press

This chapter examines prisoner enfranchisement in the Republic of Ireland. As with many other jurisdictions, the issue was historically, socially and politically charged, with the debates and outcome reflecting local characteristics. The chapter begins with an outline of prisoners’ involvement in politics pre-independence, and later in that part of Ireland that achieved independence. Although prisoners were not allowed to vote for much of Irish history, this did not prevent them from engaging with, and at times, challenging the political system, especially during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Yet, despite using their prison experience for political advancement, on release, few political leaders became vocal advocates of penal reform in general, or prisoner enfranchisement in particular. This chapter considers why there was relatively little change in the prison system with almost no penal reform and no desire for enfranchisement from many of those who had experience of imprisonment. The final section examines the low-key introduction of legislation to allow prisoners to vote.

Keywords:   Ireland, Penal Policy, History, Prisoner Enfranchisement

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