This is the joint submission on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship and CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network), the domestic social action agency of the Bishops’ Conference.
Many of the arguments made in this document restate those that were made in the 2004 Bishops’ Conference publication ‘A Place of Redemption’.
Our practical involvement with individuals in the prison system (pre and post release) has been central to the writing of this submission. There are approximately 220 Catholic Chaplains currently working in prisons throughout England and Wales, and numerous charities linked to the Church providing services including visitor centres, first night in custody support, assistance for the families of prisoners and community support for ex-prisoners. A large number of parishes also run visiting programmes through which parishioners volunteer their time to regularly meet with prisoners.
This submission only addresses the specific proposals outlined in the Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Draft Bill and is not intended to represent a complete account of the Church’s position on matters of criminal justice. The Church’s stance on other important areas of the criminal justice system has been outlined in detail in ‘A Place of Redemption’ and in our responses to recent government papers, such as: ‘Getting it Right for Victims and Witnesses’, ‘Effective Community Sentences’ and ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’. These documents explore the following, and other, areas: the provision of appropriate support for victims, the integration of restorative justice into our penal system, and the role of effective probation services.
Similarly our position on specific issues, such as the accessibility of legal support and the use of fines in judicial sentences, has been reflected in our work relating to recent legislation, including the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012) and the Crime and Courts Act (2013).
Download the full submission by CBCEW and CSAN by using the link in the top right-hand corner of this page.
Our web section on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill
The Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill on parliament.uk