A misleading article circulating on social media claims that the French socialist government wants to accord “the right for imprisoned criminals to vote, including jihadists.” At the origin of this article is the website Breiz Atao, which is responsible for publishing a number of fake news items and whose founder was convicted for «incitement to hatred or violence», according to verification tool Décodex from French newspaper Le Monde.
(Translation: ‘The French socialist government, desperately in search of voters, intends to offer voting rights to more than 50,000 prisoners being held currently in continental France. This would include – apart from the huge numbers of killers or immigrant rapists or Muslims – those imprisoned for their links to jihadist terrorism.’)
The suppression of the right to vote is a penal sentence independent from an incarceration sentence. The court may impose it or may not. In France in January 2016, of the 250,000 people admitted by prison administration, 50,000 did not have their civic rights revoked, according to the French Ministry of Justice.
Legally, these prisoners have the right to vote by proxy or by obtaining an authorisation of leave (voting methods for the imprisoned). To cite facts: “in 2005 during the European Constitution referendum, only 500 out of 57,000 prisoners participated”, according to French newspaper Le Monde’s survey in March 2007. Seeing as prisons are ill-suited to the exercise of a prisoner’s right to vote, the situation has not evolved for the better since then.
According to the original article by France bleu cited by Breiz Atao, the French government plans a “possible voting experiment amongst prison detainees for the general elections next June”. ” This experiment is a proposal by the Minister of Justice Jean-Jacques Urvuoas, which intends to allow prisoners who are not deprived of their right to vote to effectively be able to vote. It has not yet been adopted, it only concerns the legislative elections in June, and it only concerns one French municipality, according to a Government press release.