The Scottish Tories will this week push for an end to prisoner voting in a Holyrood debate.
The party’s justice spokesman Liam Kerr has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament, to be debated on Wednesday, calling for prisoners to be barred from the polls in the upcoming 2021 election.
Currently, those serving sentences of less than 12 months are able to elect MSPs, something Mr Kerr and his colleagues regard as part of a “soft-touch justice” system.
“The Scottish Conservatives have been the only party to consistently oppose these shameful plans to give hundreds of prisoners the vote in May’s election,” he said.
“We urge other parties to join us and stand up against these plans from the SNP Government to enfranchise criminals in a Scottish Parliament election for the first time. This will be met with outrage by people across Scotland.
“These plans are yet another example of the SNP’s soft-touch justice attitude in action.
“While many of us will have to change our voting habits, the SNP are set to make it easy for prisoners to vote from the comfort of their cells.”
He added: “Our debate will show that the SNP aren’t interested in standing up for victims.
“Their soft-touch justice system is only getting worse and worse which this year will see them write off almost 300,000 hours of unpaid work for criminals and slashing budgets designed to support victims.
“The Scottish Conservatives would bring forward a Victims Law as our first act in the next Scottish Parliament to put an end to the SNP’s soft-touch justice system.”
A spokesman for Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “We are providing £18 million to improve support, advice and information for victims and their families and our approach to the justice system has seen the lowest reconviction rate in 21 years, one of the lowest crime rates in 40 years.
“The Tories’ policies would result in Scotland being more unsafe with more victims of crime.
“Under the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Act, which was passed with a two thirds majority in February 2020, the franchise was extended to those serving a custodial sentence of 12 months or less.
“The extension of voting rights to some prisoners was introduced to comply with a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights that a blanket ban on prisoner voting breached the European Convention of Human Rights.”
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