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Voting Behind Bars

Norm Geras searches for a compromise:

All those convicted of very serious crimes - crimes against the person, murder, physical violence, rape, and other offences that do grave harm to their victims - have (a) placed themselves above the law in the making of which voting is a democratic part, and (b) done so at some damaging cost to their fellow citizens. There is a case, on these grounds, for taking away their right to vote. In those circumstances, the question of real interest is which crimes should and which shouldn't lead to forfeiture of the right.

Trivial misdemeanours obviously shouldn't; grave crimes should; and the problem is where to draw the line between. This is a more difficult matter than sounding off about the inalienable right to vote (while giving not a thought to the forfeited right to go about freely), or than taking it for granted that someone who has aggressed seriously against others, in defiance of the legal rights of those others, should still have a say in law-making. But sounding off is easier.