Residents of NY Senate District 45 Agree: Prison-Based Gerrymandering is Wrong

Posted by on Apr 1, 2010 in Blog | 1 comment

Senate District 45 - Graphic from the Prison Policy Initiative (http://prisonpolicy.org)

First some data:

Average population of a NY Senate District-306,072

State Senate District 45:

Census Population-299,603

Incarcerated Population-14,161

Resident Population-285,442

State and Federal Prisons-13

State Senate District 45 has the largest incarcerated population in New York, and this status began because former Senator Ronald Stafford rose to become the chair of the Finance Committee. Son of a correctional officer, he used his chairmanship to direct funds into his district for prison construction. In violation of our state’s constitution and the Supreme Court, Stafford prison-gerrymandered the make-up of his district–with democratic distortions that affect the entire state.

The voting population of all legislative districts must be as equal as possible. When people are counted as residents of a district that are so vastly different from their home communities, both districts suffer, as does everyone seeking fair and equal representation.

Essex County, one of the 6 counties in District 45, has passed a law against the use of prison-based Census data:

Persons incarcerated in state and federal correctional institutions live in a separate environment, do not participate int he life of Essex County and do not affect the social and economic character of the towns…The inclusion of these federal and state correctional inmates unfairly dilutes the votes or voting weight of persons residing in other towns within Essex County…

Essex County is one of 13 counties with prisons to adjust their population data they get from the Census for the purposes of redistricting.

Americans are strong proponents of fair, equal voting practices. Let us educate our friends and neighbors so they understand the effects of prison-based gerrymandering.