Viehoff and Bennett quoted in report of Parliamentary Committee on Voting Eligibility Bill

Viehoff and Bennett quoted in report of Parliamentary Committee on Voting Eligibility Bill

Two members of the Department of Philosophy were invited to appear before the Joint Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill, and are widely quoted in the Committee’s final report.

As part of their Democracy and Criminal Justice research project, Daniel Viehoff and Chris Bennett conducted research on the normative basis of disenfranchising offenders, looking at whether those who have committed serious crimes should lose the right to vote – as anyone receiving a custodial sentence currently does.

In November 2012, the Government published a draft bill on voting eligibility for prisoners, putting forward options for reform of the policy of disenfranchisement, and a Joint Committee of the Houses of Lords and Commons was formed to scrutinise the bill and produce a report. Viehoff and Bennett submitted written evidence to the Committee and on 9 October 2013 were invited to make an oral submission. This involved around two hours of discussion with the committee – most of it on camera.  

In December, the Joint Committee published its report and Viehoff and Bennett’s evidence was widely quoted, particularly in the section titled ‘Is there a rational basis for disenfranchisement?’ Furthermore, the report agreed with Viehoff and Bennett that the present policy should be reformed and that being given a prison sentence is not a sufficient ground for losing the right to vote. We now await the Government calling a parliamentary vote on the Bill to see whether the reforms are voted into policy.

For more information on the research project, including publications, please visit the project website and the Parliament website.