A human rights and criminological approach to prisoner disenfranchisement in the UK

  • Nicholas Garcia Saddler

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisJD (Juris Doctor)


This dissertation undertakes a legal analysis of prisoner disenfranchisement in the UK, examining tensions between parliamentary sovereignty and compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. Grounded in criminology, comparative law, and human rights jurisprudence, it assesses the legality of the UK's blanket ban on prisoner voting despite contrary ECtHR rulings. The analysis establishes the conceptual foundation through examining punishment rationales like retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation and restorative justice. The complex legal and political landscape regarding prisoner enfranchisement in the UK is elucidated. A comparative analysis reveals diverse international policy approaches to prisoner voting. Rigorous proportionality analysis enables an assessment that the UK's blanket voting ban is not wholly proportionate nor disproportionate. An incremental enfranchisement approach for prisoners nearing release is recommended to balance punitive and rehabilitative objectives consistent with fundamental rights commitments.
Date of AwardDec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorAlessandro Corda (Supervisor) & Amanda Kramer (Supervisor)


  • Prisoner disenfranchisement
  • prisoner voting rights
  • European Convention on Human Rights
  • UK law
  • parliamentary sovereignty
  • proportionality
  • prisoner blanket ban
  • enfranchisement
  • punishment theory
  • retribution
  • deterrence
  • rehabilitation
  • restorative justice
  • human rights law
  • comparative law
  • ECtHR rulings

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