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  1. ITV Report

Assembly Committee backs right to vote for prisoners

Credit: PA

Prisoners in Wales should have the right to vote, according to a National Assembly committee.

The majority of Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee backed a recommendation for inmates serving less than four years to have the right to vote in devolved Welsh elections.

The change was supported for devolved Welsh elections.

A similar recommendation for 16-17-year-olds in custody to have the right to vote, if the voting age is lowered in Wales, was also supported by the majority.

The Chair of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee said the inquiry had tried to consider all sides.

No doubt many will believe that giving even one more prisoner the vote is a step too far; whilst those who support full enfranchisement will be disappointed we have not been more bold. In recommending the vote for those sentenced to less than four years we have recognised the evidence to our inquiry, public opinion and the different views of committee members.

– John Griffiths AM, Chair
The suggestion has faced criticism from those representing victims.

The move has faced criticism, however, Baroness Newlove - the Victims Commissioner for England and Wales - disagreed with the recommendation.

Someone is sent to prison as a punishment for breaking the law, and that is very important for victims to hear that, those directions in court, and to follow through. Because, for them, prison means that, for a fixed period of time, you are deprived of the right to live in a society as a free citizen, and therefore that ought to include the right to participate in elections.

– Baroness Newlove, Victims Commissioner for England and Wales

The report will now be considered by the Welsh Government, Assembly Members and the National Assembly for Wales Commission.

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