Removing prisoners’ voting rights a backward step

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Australian psychologists have expressed great concern regarding the proposal to not allow prisoners to vote in elections, labeling it as a backward step.

"Putting a convicted offender into gaol constitutes the punishment society metes out to law-breakers," said forensic psychologist Dr Bob Montgomery, Director of Communications for the Australian Psychological Society.

"Anyone who thinks the loss of freedom involved in being locked up, even in a modern gaol, is a soft option just hasn't experienced it. There is no need to add further punishment, such as the loss of basic democratic rights like voting."

"Centuries of experience and decades of research have shown that traditionally run prisons have often not only failed to rehabilitate offenders but actually increased the likelihood of their offending again. The more punitive the penal system, the more alienated its inmates are likely to become," Dr Montgomery said.

"In recent years the emphasis has been on restorative justice, which confronts offenders with the real consequences of their offending behaviour but in ways that give them the opportunity and support to reintegrate with society.

This has been a particularly promising approach with young offenders and every one of those we can help back into law-abiding society is a gain for the community,” he emphasised. “This no voting proposal has no place in a considered, research-based approach to important social issues.”

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For more information:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3300 or 0412 683 068
e.grant@psychology.org.au