Two out of 300 prisoners registered to vote, and didn’t

Two out of 300 prisoners registered to vote, and didn’t
Cork Prison. Picture Dan Linehan

JUST two out of a population of almost 300 prisoners at Cork Prison were registered to vote in the abortion referendum — and neither voted.

That’s according to statistics in the Progress in the Penal System report, published by the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

Prisoners are entitled to vote by postal ballot, and a member of staff in each prison has responsibility for providing information to inmates on their voting entitlement.

Under the Electoral Amendment Act 2006, prisoners are given details of how to exercise their vote in induction literature when they are committed.

A stock of ballot application forms are available to prisoners on request, according to the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

And the IPS added: “Prisoners have access to a range of media forms including newspapers, radio and TV through which they are kept informed of current affairs.

“The extensive educational facilities available in the various institutions also play a role in this process of increasing prisoner awareness of political developments.”

The spokesman continued: “A number of voluntary organisations have been facilitated in making presentations to prisoners in various institutions and conducting workshops on prisoner participation in the voting process.

“The Prison Service has worked closely with both the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice and the Department of Government in University College Cork at increasing voter awareness among prisoners, particularly in the context of the under-participation of this category of voter in the political process.”

However, the IPS points out that it is up to each Irish citizen to ensure that they are registered to vote.

The IPRT report outlined: “In total 58 prisoners out of a total of 3,897 prisoners voted in Ireland’s 2018 Referendum. Of these, 55 were males and three were females. It is understood that no campaign groups visited prisons in the run-up to the referendum.”

Meanwhile, the report recommended that the office of the Inspector of Prisons “should have an annual programme of independent prison inspections followed by published reports, and be adequately resourced to do so.”

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