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British prisoners may be given right to vote

[JURIST] The United Kingdom's Department for Constitutional Affairs [official website] has said it will review rules preventing prisoners from voting in British elections, after a European court upheld an earlier decision [ECHR overview] that determined that the rules violate prisoners' human rights. The case leading to the department's review was filed by John Hirst, who had been sentenced to life in prison for killing his landlord. Hirst claimed he should be able to vote while in prison and the European Court of Human Rights [official website] agreed, ruling [judgment; press release] that the Representation of the People Act of 1983 [text] breached Hirst's human rights. But Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer [official profile], Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, said that all 70,000 inmates in Britain's prison system would not be given the right to vote after the departmental review. In an interview with BBC Radio, Lord Falconer said that those prisoners convicted of lesser offenses might be able to vote, but it was clear that he did not favor voting rights for those convicted of more serious crimes. Lord Falconer said, "This is not a wholesale change, this is simply the court saying [to the government] 'Consider carefully the basis of your law'." The UK Press Association has more.

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