Name: Khant Zayar
Should Prisoners be allowed to vote?
There are many people who believe that prisoners convicted of crimes and receiving a custodial sentence should not have the right to vote, should be punished, should remove the rights of vote and should stay quietly for their entire lives. On the other hand, there are some people who argue that prisoners should have the right to vote. I strongly agree that prisoners should have the rights to vote because this is a fundamental to a democracy.
Prisoners are people who are incarcerated for vastly different circumstances that undermine a generalized approach. However, they are still part of society and do engage in democratic process. Therefore, having the right to vote is crucial to classification as a democracy. It defines a nation as a democracy and it should be offered to all citizens. In addition, a prison should be about rehabilitation: a place to create opportunities for healing personal transformation. To remove the right to vote is dehumanizing prisoners. Recently in United Kingdom, government allows to give the vote to its prisoners, which is a good new for the prisoners. European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland have no ban on prisoner voting rights.
Several people who believe the rights-forfeiture theory say that voting is a privilege and it can be taken away if a person breaks a law. ROGER CLEGG (“Who should vote?” in Texas Review of Law and Politics) said that only those who are trustworthy and loyal to vote to Republic should be allowed to vote. However, MARC MAUER (“Voting Behind Bars” in Howard Laws Journal) alleged that there is no evidence to suggest to that somebody who burgles a house or steals a car or even murders somebody can’t be trusted to decide which candidate has better immigration policies. After all, prisoners have already lost their rights to freedom due to committing a crime. It seems quite unfair to disenfranchise their rights to vote. The purpose of putting criminals to into prison is to protect the community and to punish the criminals not to re-offend again once they are out.
Taking away prisoners’ freedom to play a role in who governs the country by society is sending a message to prisoners that they are no longer part of that society. This will undoubtedly lead to the feeling of isolation, and prisoners will attempt to reoffend. The government should not treat prisoners as a sub-class citizens or animals. If the prisoners are allowed to vote, they will at least psychologically feel welcomed and sense compassion which hopefully will ensure him to think themselves as a part of society even when the freedom is given back to them.
In conclusion, giving allowance to prisoners to vote will be effective is undoubtedly arguable. From my opinion, the best way to ensure prisoners have the right to vote is by passing a constitutional amendment establishing an affirmative right to vote for every citizen.