This collection of original essays by leading scholars and advocates offers the first international examination of the nature, causes, and effects of laws regulating voting by people with criminal convictions. In deciding whether prisoners shall retain the right to vote, a country faces vital questions about democratic self-definition and constitutional values – and, increasingly, about the scope of judicial power. Yet in the rich and growing literature on comparative constitutionalism, relatively little attention has been paid to voting rights and election law. Democracy and Punishment begins to fill that gap, showing how constitutional courts in Israel, Canada, South Africa, and Australia, as well as the European Court of Human Rights, have grappled with these policies in the last decade, often citing one another along the way. Chapters analyze partisan politics, political theory, prison administration, and social values, showing that constitutional law is the fruit of political and historical contingency, not just constitutional texts and formal legal doctrine.
Part I. Contemporary Disenfranchisement Law: 1. Voting rights and human rights: a comparative analysis of criminal disfranchisement laws Laleh Ispahani; 2. Punishment and social exclusion: national differences in prisoner disenfranchisement Chris Uggen, Mischelle Van Brakle, and Heather McLaughlin; Part II. Disenfranchisement in Comparative Perspective: Legal and Political Approaches: 3. US felon disenfranchisement: parting ways with Western Europe Nora Demleitner; 4. The right to universal, equal and non-discriminatory suffrage as a norm of customary international law: protecting the prisoner's right to vote Rick Wilson; 5. Our 'crooked timber': why is American punishment so harsh? Elizabeth Hull; Part III. Voting Rights and People with Criminal Convictions: Case Studies: 6. The politics and legality of prisoner disenfranchisement in Australian federal elections Ronnit Redman, David Brown, and Bryan Mercurio; 7. The campaign for prisoner voting rights in Ireland Claire Hamilton and Rick Lines; 8. The ballot as a bulwark: prisoners' right to vote in South Africa Lukas Muntingh and Julia Sloth-Nielsen; 9. The right to vote in Danish prisons Anette Storgaard; 10. In defense of prisoner disenfranchisement Christopher Manfredi.