SCOTTISH Labour leadership contender Ken Macintosh says some convicted prisoners should be allowed to vote and the blanket ban is “knee jerk”, as he sets out what would be a significant policy shift by his party.
Under the existing law all convicted offenders in jail are denied the franchise although prisoners awaiting trial on remand retain the right to vote.
Mr Macintosh said inmates sentenced for non-violent crimes or some of those who have demonstrated “good behaviour” and shown “shame” for their crimes should be eligible to have a say in elections. He said: “I recognise that it’s a thorny issue and that a lot of people would say that a judgment has been taken by a court, but it’s also about what kind of message we send to young offenders and non-violent offenders and whether we treat all of them like rapists and murderers. There is a big difference between violent and dangerous offenders and those who have let their lives go off the rails.
“I wouldn’t want to replicate a blanket ban with a blanket right to vote and there is an instinct to be concerned about somebody who has broken the law having the right to vote.
“But if someone has demonstrated good behaviour and shown that they feel shame for their crime then if we are to be a compassionate society we should look at this.”
Mr Macintosh is standing against Lothians MSP Kezia Dugdale.