Should Prisoners Vote?

As we proceed towards the general elections next year, the country is in an apprehensive mood, not knowing whether to expect violence or peace. Please keep the peace. Politicians are hard at “work” unveiling scandal upon scandal to continue discrediting each other in the face of the public. With IEBC undergoing reforms, why shouldn’t the list of voters also undergo reforms? I must have you at a… state your argument position. So here goes.

The only party not allowed to participate in any electoral process in the country is the army (KDF). Not surprising, they should and will be loyal to anyone who occupies the house of houses. You may paint your house white; still, no one will call it the White House. Why all presidential residences are called the white house(s) is still a mystery… Ponder.

There is a group however we all forget about unless we hear of the rare presidential pardons or its Christmas season and suddenly everyone is feeling benevolent. They are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and children; they are our families but above all, they are Kenyans. These are the people held in our incarceration and corrections system.

As of April 2016, our prisons hold 57,000 Kenyans (Institute for Criminal Policy Research). This is inclusive of pre-trial detainees and remand prisoners. 3,021 of the 57,000 are female. If the news is anything to go by, crime rate in Kenya is on the increase. Even with the advent of CCTV technologies to beef up security, burglary and armed robbery goes on undeterred. Sadly, we may be expecting prison population to rise.

Question is; does one wrong decision that led to incarceration mean that an individual is unable to make countless good decisions? Especially with regard to whom they’d rather have as a leader. The institution they fall under is titled corrections and reforms, meaning at the point of their freedom (if that option is available) then the prisoners will be expected to integrate back into society and function seamlessly. It may be argued that we don’t want unrests in our prisons due to political polarization, but let’s face it, the country IS polarized. Always has been politically. Unless we phase out the amateur politics of tribalism, that’s where we’ll remain until God (or whoever deity you answer to) comes and rescues us from this quagmire.

57,000 people are not negligible by any standard, regardless of crime. If someone is going to be or is imprisoned for life, or otherwise, we should at least allow them the dignity to choose their leader. Again, one wrong decision does not imply inability to make countless good ones. Allow our prisoners to VOTE.

By Gilbert Reagan
According to you should Prisoners be allowed to vote?

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