User Voice - Only Offenders Can Stop Re-Offending

WATCH Mark Johnson give evidence to the Select Committee on Prisoner Voting

This morning User Voice founder Mark Johnson gave evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill.

The role of the Committee is to consider and report on the issue of prisoner voting, in light of the UK's current blanket ban on prisoner voting being in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. You can watch a video of the entire 90 minute meeting below:

Also giving evidence to the Committee were Juliet Lyon, Director of The Prison Reform Trust and Rachel Halford, Acting Director of Women in Prison.

One of the things discussed by Mark during the Committee meeting was User Voice's work in setting up Prison Councils in several prisons across the country, which you can read more about here.

In 2011 we published a report on the setting up of a Prison Council at HMP Isle of Wight called 'The Power Inside - The Role of Prison Councils', which you can read here.

You can also read a summary of the 'Power Inside' report here. This describes how Council members at HMP Isle of Wight were given training by market research company So What?, to enable them to undertake a survey of prisoners on their attitudes to voting.

Around 560 prisoners completed the survey, which revealed that just 35% of those eligible voted in the 2005 general election. However, 66% of respondents said that they intended to vote in the next national elections (if able to do so).

Significantly, when split into those that engaged in the Prison Council process and those that didn't, the former group was roughly 50% more likely to want to vote in the next national elections.

Service User Reps meet Prisons Minister at MoJ

13 service users involved in User Voice projects across the country visited the Ministry of Justice yesterday in order to speak with the Prisons, Probation and Youth Justice Minister Jeremy Wright.

This was a unique opportunity for the Government to find out from current service users what they think of the proposed changes that are about to take place within the criminal justice system.

The 13 Reps spoke from their own personal experience, but also articulated the opinions of the service users they represent as members of User Voice Community Councils in London, Kent, Cumbria and Northumbria.

The group also included one member of one of the User Voice Prison Councils, who was granted Release on Temporary Licence for the day specifically to attend this meeting. 
In total, they represented some 27,500 service users across the UK.

I wouldn't have thought I would be stood outside the Ministry of Justice let alone inside it, talking to the Minister.
Council member