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DEBATE: as convicted murders await judgement, should prisoners have the vote?
A PAIR of convicted murderers will learn this week whether they have won the right to vote while in jail.
Peter Chester and George McGeoch have taken their cases to the UK Supreme Court, the highest in the land, which is set to hand down its judgment on Wednesday.
Chester, who is in his 50s, is serving life for raping and strangling his seven-year-old niece Donna Marie Gillbanks in Blackpool in 1977.
He is detained at Wakefield prison in West Yorkshire and the minimum term he was ordered to serve before becoming eligible to apply for parole has expired.
McGeoch, from Glasgow, is serving his life sentence at Dumfries prison for the 1998 murder of Eric Innes in Inverness.
He received a minimum term of 13 years but due to subsequent convictions, including taking two prison nurses hostage in a siege in 2001, will not be considered for parole until 2015.
Chester's challenge at the Supreme Court follows a decision by three Court of Appeal judges in December 2010 to dismiss his case.
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has ruled it is up to individual countries to decide which inmates should be denied the right to vote from jail, but that a total ban is illegal.
Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed that inmates would not be given voting rights under his administration and has said that the idea of giving prisoners the vote makes him ''sick''.
He told the House of Commons last year: ''No-one should be in any doubt: prisoners are not getting the vote under this Government.''
Under section three of the Representation of the People Act 1983, convicted prisoners are prevented from voting in parliamentary and local government elections - and under the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 a person is entitled to vote in European parliamentary elections if he is entitled to vote in parliamentary elections.
In November the Government published the Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny by a joint committee of both Houses.
It has put forward three options - a ban for prisoners sentenced to four years or more, a ban for prisoners sentenced to more than six months and a re-statement of the existing ban.
Do you think prisoners, including convicted murderers, should have the vote? Have your say below.
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