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Connecticut Considers Ending Prison-Based Gerrymandering

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3/18/11

(New York, New York) – On Monday March 21, at 10:00 am, the Joint Committee on the Judiciary of the Connecticut General Assembly will hold a hearing to consider HB 6084, which would end prison-based gerrymandering in Connecticut.  Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) will provide testimony in support of the bill.

Prison-based gerrymandering is the practice of drawing election district lines based on data that counts incarcerated individuals where they are confined, rather than where they are from.  Although Connecticut law treats incarcerated people as residents of their home communities, and not of the prisons where they are held, prison-based gerrymandering artificially inflates population numbers, and thus, political influence, in the cities and towns that hold prisons.  “The result,” said Ho, “is a dilution of everyone else’s voting power.”

Like similar bills passed in New York, Maryland and Delaware last year, HB 6084 will require that incarcerated individuals be counted at their home addresses for redistricting purposes.  Several towns in Connecticut, such as Enfield, already adjust population numbers to ensure that electoral districts at the local level are not skewed by the presence of large correctional facilities.  HB 6084 would apply the same solution on a statewide basis.

“Your voice as a citizen should not count less just because you don’t happen to live near a prison.  This bill is an essential reform that will not only bring Connecticut’s redistricting process in line with basic principles of equality, it will also eliminate potential legal issues that may arise during the upcoming redistricting process,” said Ho.

Testimony at the hearing will be provided by a range of experts, community members, and affected individuals.  Mr. Ho is available for interview to discuss the implications of this bill and LDF’s ongoing efforts to end prison based gerrymandering.

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ABOUT LDF
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.(LDF) is America's premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans. LDF also defends the gains and protections won over the past 70 years of civil rights struggle and works to improve the quality and diversity of judicial and executive appointments.