With the referendum for Scottish independence upcoming, my question has three possible contexts of application: it could be about the position of Scottish prisoners as nationals of the United Kingdom in political elections; it could be about Scottish prisoners under independent Scottish jurisdiction; or it could concern the say of Scottish prisoners in the decision on which of those other two contexts applies after September. This last question is particularly interesting because it opens onto some deeper issues about what it means to be part of the Scottish people at this time of potential constitutional change.
I was prompted to this reflection following a recent group visit to HMP Shotts, at the invitation of prison governor Jim Kerr, to learn about the nature and conditions of prisoners’ work there. (It was an enlightening experience, as Liz Cooper has described in her blog). The topic of voting didn’t come up, but more substantial issues about prisoners’ relations to the wider society did. Continue reading