Since 1976, all 43 new prisons in New York have been built in rural, largely white upstate communities. Furthermore, when the last round of redistricting happened in 2002, 7 upstate districts would not have met minimum population requirements if the prison population hadn’t been added to those districts. To add to the conscious practice of injustice, the redistricting in 2002 led to 2 chairs of criminal justice committees “representing” 17% of the state’s incarcerated persons. Senators Volker and Nozzolio have, unsurprisingly, been strong proponents of the dated and draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws, which mandate disproportionally long sentences for minor drug offenses.
Although 80% of the people incarcerated in New York are Black or Latino, 98% are incarcerated in districts that are disproportionally white. Do Senators Volker and Nozzolio really work for the betterment of the incarcerated population in their districts?–or just use their numbers to pad their districts population numbers at the expense of the home communities of those who are incarcerated? Do they really work to ensure the fair and careful treatment and rehabilitation of New York citizens that cannot vote?–or have median incarceration times of less than 26 months?
Scholars agree that the Rockefeller Drug Laws did not just happen to result in high minority incarceration.
Our democracy is built on representation – equal representation. Prison-based gerrymandering results in representation without population to back it up. It’s not fair to any New Yorker.
The New York State Constitution is very clear. Incarceration does not change one’s residence. It’s time to restore ‘one person, one vote’ in New York. It’s time to pass S6725/A9834.