The Census Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the communities where prisons are based, as opposed to their home addresses. Even though the New York State Constitution states that incarceration does not change a person’s residence, the state and counties use Census prison counts for redistricting purposes.
Counting incarcerated people in the wrong place skews legislative representation. Residents of state and local districts containing prisons gain an unfair amount of political clout, while residents of districts without prisons suffer vote dilution.
It is too late for the Census Bureau to change where it counts people in prison, but a growing campaign seeks to eliminate prison-based gerrymandering by changing how the state and counties use the Census data.
We support legislation introduced in the New York State Senate and Assembly by Senator Eric T. Schneiderman and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, addressing this critical issue. The legislation would require New York State to adjust Census figures and draw state and county districts based on people in prison being counted in their home communities.
We will support this campaign in the following ways:
In addition to this important policy change we are also committed to community outreach and education around voting rights.