If there are no votes in prisons, why does the general election matter?

There aren’t any votes in prisons. The phrase is well worn and a conclusion speedily reached by election strategists and candidates plotting the path to power. It’s probably true to say that there isn’t a great appetite for politics in prisons either. And whatever the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, it seems unlikely that ballot boxes will be crossing through the prison gate anytime soon.

So why should those all but a handful of prisoners bother to take any interest at all in this year’s democratic process? And why should voters take more interest in how the consequences of their decision will impact on prisons?

Inevitably, the answer to both questions is that decisions made by the winners after the election will have a material difference on what happens behind prison gates. Indirectly, it will also determine what happens elsewhere in schools, hospitals, in the military, and much more besides. It will even influence almost every community in the country, potentially for decades to come. With just several dozen of the tens of thousands in prison serving whole-life tariffs, even those not able to vote have a stake in what happens in May.