Prisoners Being Allowed to Vote, and the Potential Ethical Issue Raised

Topics: Ethics, Human rights, European Convention on Human Rights Pages: 8 (2468 words) Published: January 22, 2011


Word count approx: 2177

A written report on
“Prison Inmate’s Being Allowed to Vote “

Aims and objectives
Quick reminder of ‘What is Ethics’?
Who participated? My audience.
The issue I presented.
What I spoke about in my presentation.
Deontological and Utilitarian views Any possible ethical conflict’s arising?
Why I chose what I chose.
Any personal perspectives involved?
Codes of Practice.

In looking at ethics and the ethical issues we all face within society today, I was asked to choose an ethical issue and present an individual presentation of 15 minutes to an audience using visual aids. The ethical issue had to be of public interest, had to be in relation to health and social care and most importantly had to be an issue that would make me the student, engrossed by the information I had found, eager to divulge and overall excited by the issue I had explored.

What is ethics?
Ethics is a set of principles of conduct that guide the decision making and behaviour. The purpose being to make sure that all those who follow it make ethical decisions with consistency involved. (College hand out of Ethics 2010/11)

My understanding………
What we all value comes into question when confronting an ethical issue. We have to evaluate when a moral act is right (ethical) or wrong (unethical) and then make a moral decision based on the facts.

Who participated? My audience.
I presented a power point presentation to my audience (class mates) and tutors on the ethical issue. The audience actively listened to the information I gave them and then was given the opportunity to ask any questions at the end.

The issue I presented.
The crusade started over 10 years ago, serving a 25 year sentence for killing his landlady. John Hirst was convicted for manslaughter in 1980. Whilst in prison Hirst made the decision to ‘reform’ and transformed himself into an unlikely human rights campaigner. Hirst studied law whilst on sentence and once the Human Rights Act came about in 1998 (I), Hirst went onto challenge why prison inmates could not vote once they were convicted. Hirst vowed to change the penal system. Hirst then went to the European Court of Human Rights in 2004 with the backing from The Prison Reform Trust claiming his human rights were being infringed. (i)“Human Rights Act 1998 – Aims to put that which is contained in the ‘European Convention on Human Rights’ into effect under the British Law and thus allowing cases to be dealt with in the Courts.” (college hand out – Inequality and Legislation 2009, also another college hand-out. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 2009) The ruling was given and Hirst won a landmark case. The European Court of Human Right’s ruled the UK Government was in fact in breach of the European convention of human rights. The UK Government went onto appeal and lost the following year. Then in June 2010 the UK Government was given until the next election in May 2011 to address the issue and come to an agreement, given the current ruling is morally unsustainable and incompatible with its obligations as a member of the council of Europe. In legal and historic terms, Hirst’s achievements are ground breaking and it will continue to be highly controversial as potentially some of the UK’s worst offenders and individuals could be invited to vote. “As many as 73,000 people were unlawfully denied the right to vote in the UK general and local elections on 6th May, after the Government failed to overturn the blanket ban on sentenced prisoners voting. Yet, despite the UK Government’s appeal being rejected in 2005 the policy remains in place.” ( Juliet Lyon. Hirst V UK Government (NO 2). Prison Reform Trust...
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