Politics Behind Bars: The Effect of Political Engagement on Prisoners

There is a growing consensus in criminal justice policy that understands that the most effective way to prevent reoffending is to focus on rehabilitating prisoners, rather than simply imposing harsher penalties on them. However, it is becoming clear that a stronger sense of community in prisoners may help reduce reoffending rates. Indeed, one of the main arguments in favour of giving prisoners the right to vote is that participating in elections helps to forge ties between prisoners and society, binding them to a morality that guides their conduct to good, rather than criminal, behaviour.

In January and February 2014, OxPolicy ran a research project investigating these issues in detail, which culminated at a launch event consisting of a panel of speakers. Present were Juliet Lyon CBE (Director, Prison Reform Trust), Dr. Kameel Khan (High Court Judge and Board Member, Mosaic), and Grahame Hawkings (Governor, HMP Isis-Belmarsh).

You can download the report and our Prison Reform infographic below. If you have any questions about the report, please do not hesitate to get in touch at .

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This paper was written by a team of Oxford University students. The core research for this report was conducted by Holly Anderson, Stacey Boorman, Katie McMahon, Kelsey Mollura, Olivia Phelan, Elizabeth Pugh, Emmeline Skinner Cassidy, Florence Wang, Max Young and Cindy Yu. Particular thanks go to our graduate research mentors Katherine Copperthwaite and Rachel Wechsler. Operational support was provided by the committee members Joshua Jesudason, Theo Kwek, Jean-Andre Prager, Wei Qing Tan and Russell Whitehouse. The report was edited by Wei Qing Tan. We thank the Oxford Hub for their continued support of OxPolicy.

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Charlie Bishop

Research Coordinator for the human trafficking and prison reform projects. Second year studying Law with French Law at Wadham College. Follow me on Twitter @CharlieBishop93

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