Rhode Island legislator boasts of prison-based gerrymandering

by Peter Wagner, August 17, 2010  

Providence Journal columnist Ed Fitzpatrick, who earlier reviewed Jeff Reichert’s new film Gerrymandering he published a new column this morning that focuses on the film’s segment on prison-based gerrymandering.

He said that my explanation of “the perfect district from the perspective of an elected official would be your house and a large prison, because as long as your spouse is willing to vote for you, you are guaranteed reelection” made him laugh, but he “wrote it off as an Iowa issue.” Then he started to think about the large Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston Rhode Island.

Anamosa is a great example of why prison-based gerrymandering is an unfair practice. But if viewers expect to see elected officials boast of deliberately using the prison populations to receive more representation than elsewhere, you won’t find it in Anamosa where democracy activists and the representative of the prison district worked together to change the form of government to eliminate the prison district. For shameless examples of using prison populations for self-advancement, the best example is in Rhode Island.

To find out who in Rhode Island inspired a search for a place like Anamosa, check out Ed Fitzpatrick’s column. You can also watch the segment of the film below. The film will be out in select theaters nationwide on October 15, and in more cities after that. Stay tuned!

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