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Prison gerrymandering gives extra political power to legislators who have prisons in their districts. We put numbers on the problem and sparked a movement to protect our democratic process from the overgrown prison system.

Can you help us continue the fight? All gifts made this year will be automatically matched by other donors. Thank you.

Peter Wagner, Executive DirectorDonate

Newsweek covers prison-based gerrymandering

by Aleks Kajstura, July 1, 2010

Do Rural Prisons Benefit Locals?,” in the July 1 issue of Newsweek, uses our research to highlight prison-based gerrymandering in New York, putting it in the larger context of economic and demographic shifts in the state.

Although the piece notes that “the New York proposal [to end prison-based gerrymandering], like the new law in Maryland, would affect only legislative redistricting, not state funding for social services,” some politicians are still focused on money rather than democracy.

Predictably, Senator Griffo complains:

“Upstate communities accepted prisons for the economic benefit … but there’s also other impacts, both positive and negative. The fire department, police department, and hospitals all have to respond to the prison and the inmates.”

The Senator is right in part: prisons cost money. The state pays the actual cost of incarceration, although sometimes communities do not recover the indirect costs of hosting a tax-exempt institution. If those communities are not billing the Department of Correction for these services, they should look to recover those costs in-kind, and not by gaming the electoral system.

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