Call for prisoner vote in independence referendum

Short-term prisoners should get a vote in the independence referendum say Lib Dems. Pictured is Glasgow's Barlinnie prison. Picture: PA
Short-term prisoners should get a vote in the independence referendum say Lib Dems. Pictured is Glasgow's Barlinnie prison. Picture: PA
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PRISONERS serving short-term sentences should be given a vote in the referendum, the Scottish Liberal Democrats say.

A poll of such magnitude should involve as many people as possible, justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes argued.

The party is set to propose an amendment to the Scottish Independence Referendum Franchise Bill that would allow convicted prisoners to vote in the referendum.

Convicted inmates are banned from voting in elections and referendums under existing law, but Mrs McInnes has said that the legislation should be reconsidered.

She said: “A general election chooses the government for the next five years – this referendum could change the entire country for the next 500 years and beyond.

“The primary aim of prison is rehabilitation, but if we are serious about that and about reducing re­offending, then we have to ensure that prisoners are more engaged with society.

“Allowing certain prisoners a vote can be an important step in encouraging them to take greater responsibility and to play a more positive role as they prepare to rejoin the community.”

The party proposes to put forward amendments to legislation covering the mechanics of the voter franchise when it is debated in the coming week.

However, Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said the law banning convicted prisoners from voting should remain in force for all elections and the referendum.