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Prison Gerrymandering

Research on prison-based gerrymandering (see also www.prisonersofthecensus.org)

  • The Racial Geography of Mass Incarceration
    Prison Policy Initiative, July, 2015
    “Entirely separate from the more commonly discussed problem of racial disparities in who goes to prison, this data addresses a distressing racial and ethnic disparity in where prisons have been built.”
  • Prison Gerrymandering in Massachusetts: How the Census Bureau prison miscount invites phantom constituents to town meeting,
    Prison Policy Initiative, October, 2013
    “Prison gerrymandering distorts local democracy in 7 Massachusetts towns that contain large correctional institutions and use the "representative town meeting" form of government.”
  • Imported "Constituents": Incarcerated People and Political Clout in Connecticut,
    Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2013
    “Seven of the house districts drawn by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2011 use, to meet their required populations, a substantial number of incarcerated people whose home addresses are in other districts.”
  • One last chance to avoid prison-based gerrymandering in Kansas [PDF]
    Prison Policy Initiative and Demos, May, 2012
    “By taking the simple step of dividing the Leavenworth prisons among different districts rather than concentrating them in one, the federal panel can prevent Kansas from winning the "worst prison gerrymander" award for the 2010 cycle of redistricting.”
  • Breaking the Census Redistricting in an Era of Mass Incarceration, [PDF]
    Article by Peter Wagner in the William Mitchell Law Review, May, 2012
    “A new and highly-readable introduction to the problem of prison-based gerrymandering and its remedies.”
  • Primer for reporters on county or municipal redistricting & prison-based gerrymandering, [PDF]
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2011
    “With one exception, whenever the public has learned that local districts are being based on prison populations, there was public outcry and the county decided to avoid prison-based gerrymandering by adjusting the census.”
  • Preventing Prison-Based Gerrymandering in Redistricting What to Watch For, [PDF]
    Prison Policy Initiative and Demos, February, 2011
    (This guide will tell you what to look for in [redistricting] data and the state's proposed plan in order to minimize the harm of prison-based gerrymandering.)
  • Prevenir la manipulación de los límites de los distritos electorales sobre la base de la población reclusa: qué es lo que hay que evitar, [PDF]
    Prison Policy Initiative, February, 2011
    “Está guía en español le explicará qué es lo que hay que buscar para minimizar el daño de la manipulación de los límites de los distritos electorales sobre la base de la población reclusa.”
  • Captive Constituents Prison-Based Gerrymandering and the Distortion of Our Democracy, [PDF]
    NAACP, July, 2010
    “Prison-based gerrymandering uses people's bodies to count against their interests.”
  • Importing Constituents Prisoners and Political Clout in California,
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2010
    “There are 12 California counties where a large percentage of their "residents" are actually people incarcerated at prisons that happen to be located in the county.”
  • Importing Constituents Incarcerated People and Political Clout in Maryland,
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2010
    “In Somerset County, a large prison is 64% of the 1st Commission District, giving each resident in that district 2.7 times as much influence as residents in other districts.”
  • Importing Constituents Prisoners and Political Clout in Connecticut,
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2010
    “In seven Connecticut's house districts more than 5% of the population is actually disenfranchised people who are legal residents of other parts of the state.”
  • Fixing prison-based gerrymandering after the 2010 Census A 50 state guide,
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2010
    “[A State-by-state] summary of how the prison miscount harms state and local democracy, how each state defines residence for incarcerated people, and the status of reform efforts.”
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Illinois,
    Prison Policy Initiative, February, 2010
    “Illinois' reliance on flawed Census data is responsible for a large shift in political clout from the Chicago area to downstate regions and a significant distortion of power within counties that contain prisons.”
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Massachusetts,
    Prison Policy Initiative, October, 2009
    “Five of Massachusetts' House districts meet federal minimal population requirements only because the state treats prisoners as residents of the district with the prison.”
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Oklahoma,
    Prison Policy Initiative, September, 2009
    ([B]y relying on Census Bureau counts of prison populations to pad out legislative districts with prisons, Oklahoma is inflating the votes of residents who live near prisons at the expense of every other resident in the state.)
  • Importing Constituents Prisoners and Political Clout in Pennsylvania, [PDF]
    Prison Policy Initiative, June, 2009
    “The legislative commission that drew Pennsylvania's districts in 2001 met the federal standard of population equality, but only because prisoners were counted in the wrong place.”
  • Phantom Constituents in Maine's Regional School Unit 13: How the Census Bureau's outdated method of counting prisoners harms democracy,
    Prison Policy Initiative, January, 2009
    “The designers of the school board's weighted voting system have given every group of 10 residents of Thomaston the same power over school district decisions as each group of 11 residents in the other towns.”
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Wisconsin,
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2008
  • Phantom Constituents in Tennessee's Boards of County Commissioners
    Prison Policy Initiative; Peter Wagner and JooHye DellaRocco, February, 2008
    “[This report] identifies 10 Tennessee counties in which the use of flawed Census data to draw county commissioner districts has created substantial inequities in political power within the counties.”
  • Report to U.S. Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that U.S. Census practices dilute votes of minority populations,
    Demos and Prison Policy Initiative, December, 2007
    (A report to the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva on racially discriminatory redistricting practices violating Article 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.)
  • Phantom constituents in the Empire State: How outdated Census Bureau methodology burdens New York counties,
    Prison Policy Initiative, July, 2007
  • Why the Census Bureau can and must start collecting the home addresses of incarcerated people,
    Prison Policy Initiative, February, 2006
    “Counting prisoners as residents of the prison location causes unexpected distortions in Census data for rural communities and creates significant burdens on state and local legislative data users who rely on the Census for redistricting purposes.”
  • Prisoners of the Census: Electoral and Financial Consequences of Counting Prisoners Where They Go, Not Where They Come From, [PDF]
    Eric Lotke and Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2005
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Montana,
    Prison Policy Initiative, December, 2004
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Nevada,
    Prison Policy Initiative and Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, December, 2004
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Texas,
    Prison Policy Initiative, November, 2004
  • Actual Constituents: Students and Political Clout in New York,
    Prison Policy Initiative, October, 2004
    (how students are counted in the Census, why that makes sense (as opposed to how prisoners are counted) and why it makes no sense at all for some counties to discourage students from voting locally)
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Ohio,
    Prison Policy Initiative, July, 2004
  • Too big to ignore: How counting people in prisons distorted Census 2000,
    Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2004
  • Prisoners Gerrymandering Project Miscounting prisoners undercounts democracy, [Website]
    Prison Policy Initiative, March, 2004
  • Accuracy Counts Incarcerated People & the Census, [PDF]
    Brennan Center for Justice, January, 2004
    “Counting incarcerated people according to their home of record is the fairest and most accurate way to assess the true size and needs of urban communities, and to ensure equitable distribution of population-based funding and political power.”
  • Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in New York,
    Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2002
    (Study of the effect of counting urban prisoners as rural residents for purposes of state legislative redistricting)

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