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New York Takes Swing at Prison Gerrymandering

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Earlier this summer, Miller-McCune highlighted a report from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund on the controversial practice of “prison-based gerrymandering.” The census accounting trick — by which prisoners are tallied in the districts where they are incarcerated, not where they permanently reside — dilutes the voting power of minority communities.

“In New York, 66 percent of the state’s prisoners come from New York City, but 91 percent of them are incarcerated upstate, a more rural and less populated region,” the study concluded. “In the 2000 Census, over 43,000 New York City residents were counted as members of upstate communities because of prison-based gerrymandering.               

“Without these prison populations, seven of New York’s State Senate districts from the 2000 redistricting cycle would not meet the minimum population requirements under federal law and would have to be redrawn, which would in turn change district lines across the state.”

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