Much has been said about whether prisoners have the right to vote. The European Courts have declared that a blanket ban is unlawful. David Cameron has said that the prospect of having to give prisoners the vote makes him sick. The British Courts have refused to take a side, simultaneously making a declaration that the current system is not compatible with either European or British Law, and refusing to actually do anything about it. Instead they claim that the Government promising to review it (but then never getting round to doing that) is enough.
I won’t wade into that debate (just yet), but I would like to highlight an example from The States which I think says a lot about what prisoners have to offer the political system.
You may be aware that some American states actually disenfranchise convicts for life. Famously, many black men in Florida were not allowed to vote in the presidential elections of 2000 even though they had no criminal records on the grounds that their names were similar to the names of ex-convicts. Not the same, but similar. But this has not always been the case. In fact, one individual actually ran for president from prison and did surprisingly well.