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Minnesota Post on prison-based gerrymandering

by Peter Wagner, February 25, 2010

Casey Selix writes about the importance of fixing the Census Bureau’s prison counts in Minnesota’s legislative districts in Census issue: when, where — and for what purpose — to count inmates

She quotes Prison Policy Initiative Legal Director Aleks Kajstura on why we are working in Minnesota on this issue with the Second Chance Coalition:

“We’re focusing on Minnesota for three reasons…. First, the Minnesota Constitution says that incarceration does not change a residence. Second, Minnesota has such a strong dedication to the principle of drawing equal districts, that only three other states have House districts that are more equal in population. Third, even though Minnesota has fewer people in prison than most states, there are still enough people being counted in the wrong place to violate the principles of democracy.”

Also quoted is Sarah Walker, a founder of the Second Chance Coalition, who explains why the Coalition is taking up the issue:

“There are so many people in prison today that it’s breaking our electoral system, punishing even people who have no involvement with the criminal justice system”

Keesha Gaskins, executive director of the League of Women Voters explains her rational as well:

“This is a democratic issue, with a small ‘d,’ ” she said. “This isn’t a huge partisan issue. It’s about what’s fair for citizens and what’s fair for prisoners.”

The article says that State Sen. Linda Higgins is working on a bill that would fix prison-based gerrymandering in the state.

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