If tax-paying part-time residents shouldn’t be counted outside their home districts, neither should incarcerated people

by Aleks Kajstura, February 19, 2010  

In a recent editorial, “In new Census, home is where the vote should be,” the Times Herald-Record (Orange County, NY), examines the issue of prison-based gerrymandering in the larger context of voting and election law in New York State.

If it is not right to let a two-month bungalow colony resident vote in the Town of Bethel or the owner of a year-round vacation home vote in Taghkanic, then it should be even less acceptable to let thousands of people who cannot vote, who do not pay taxes, and who really would rather be somewhere else count toward the population of an Assembly, Senate or House district.

I don’t share the paper’s pessimism that we need litigation to resolve where incarcerated people should be counted, I think we can resolve this problem on the core principle of our democratic process: one person, one vote. Fairness, accuracy and the New York State Constitution demand that incarcerated people not be counted as constituents of politicians far from their home districts.

Note: The New York State Const. Article 2, Section 4 provides that “no person shall be deemed to have gained or lost a residence, by reason of his presence or absence … while confined in any public prison.”

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  • February 5, 2015:
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  • February 6, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be at Yale for a panel presentation at the Equality Re-Imagined Conference.
  • February 20, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner, Board Member Amanda Alexander and Advisory Board Member Bruce Reilly will present on a panel entitled “The fight against mass incarceration: Combining litigation and policy work for systemic change” at RebLaw at Yale Law School from 3-4:30pm.
  • February 24, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be speaking to the American Constitution Society Chapter at UConn School of Law at 12:30pm. Topics will include mass incarceration, prison gerrymandering, sentencing enhancement zones and more.

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Events

  • February 5, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be in New York for the reception of the exhibition, Prison Obscura, curated by Prison Photography editor Pete Brook. The exhibition includes Prison Map by Josh Begley and Proliferation by Paul Rucker, both of which rely on Prison Policy Initiative data to show the scale of mass incarceration. The event will be held at Parsons School of Design from 6:30-8:30pm and a Curator’s Talk by Pete Brooks at 5:45pm.
  • February 6, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be at Yale for a panel presentation at the Equality Re-Imagined Conference.
  • February 20, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner, Board Member Amanda Alexander and Advisory Board Member Bruce Reilly will present on a panel entitled “The fight against mass incarceration: Combining litigation and policy work for systemic change” at RebLaw at Yale Law School from 3-4:30pm.
  • February 24, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be speaking to the American Constitution Society Chapter at UConn School of Law at 12:30pm. Topics will include mass incarceration, prison gerrymandering, sentencing enhancement zones and more.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

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