New York Passes Legislation to End Prison-based Gerrymandering
Yesterday, the New York State Senate passed a bill to count prisoners in their home communities during next year’s legislative redistricting process — rather than counting prisoners where they are incarcerated, which inflates the districts in which prisons are located at the expense of other districts. The bill had already passed in the State Assembly and now goes to Gov. David Paterson for his signature. New York is the third state to pass legislation this year addressing prison-based gerrymandering, after Maryland and Delaware.
The new law will help New York correct past distortions in representation caused by counting incarcerated persons as residents of prisons, such as the following:
Seven of the current New York State Senate districts meet minimum population requirements only by claiming incarcerated people as residents. Forty percent of an Oneida County legislative district is incarcerated, and 50 percent of a Rome City Council ward is incarcerated, giving the people who live next to the prisons more influence than people in other districts or wards.