Punishment and citizenship : a theory of criminal disenfranchisement
Title: Punishment and citizenship : a theory of criminal disenfranchisement
Author: TRIPKOVIC, Milena
Citation: Florence : European University Institute, 2014
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of Political and Social Sciences
The thesis examines the normative justification of contemporary restrictions to electoral rights of criminal offenders. While such limitations are becoming fewer, many democracies retain them even today. Having in mind the strong devotion to the principle of universal suffrage, the persistence of these restrictions prompts an inquiry into the reasons for their enactment and an assessment of their normative value. To situate the problem empirically, the thesis undertakes an analysis of electoral regimes in 43 European countries. An astounding diversity among them is discovered – regimes range from those with no restrictions to those that restrict the franchise of everyone imprisoned – and thus possible explanations are investigated. The argument is that the best way to understand a particular electoral policy is to interpret it within the context of what is termed the ‘value of citizenship’ in a polity. Constituted by a host of social, political, economic and cultural factors, the ‘value of citizenship’ indicates the level of accessibility and stability of rights attached to the citizenship status. This finding, along with the historical analysis of citizenship ideals, raises a fundamental doubt regarding the nature of criminal disenfranchisement: should it be understood as punishment for crime or is its proper function to sanction the manifestation of ‘bad citizenship’? The thesis argues that punishment and disenfranchisement are conceptually different and thus goes on to develop a citizenship-based normative account of criminal disenfranchisement. The fundamental question that guides the subsequent inquiry hence becomes: what should be the normative consequences of the act of crime for one’s citizenship status? To answer this question, three distinct accounts of the bond between the citizen and her polity are constructed: the ‘sense of justice’, the ‘civic virtue’ and the ‘common good’ model. The analysis shows that, regardless of inherent differences, all models deny the legitimacy of disenfranchisement of the criminal population as such, save for the morally incorrigible individuals who have perpetrated crimes immensely detrimental to the polity. The main policy implication of this argument is that permanent exclusions of a very restricted number of asocial perpetrators of the most serious anti-state and anti-personal crimes are permitted, but also that – even if such restrictions can be considered legitimate – no polity has a duty to impose them.
Defence date: 4 December 2014; Examining Board: Prof. Rainer Bauböck, European University Institute (Supervisor); Prof. Ian Loader, University of Oxford (External Supervisor); Prof. Richard Bellamy, European University Institute; Prof. Dirk Van Zyl Smit, University of Nottingham.
Type of Access: embargoedAccess