Escambia County, Alabama, avoids prison-based gerrymandering
by Peter Wagner, August 31, 2010
The 2010 U.S. Census will determine more than just how many people live in a given regional area. Those numbers are also used when counties across the state of Alabama determine where district lines are drawn for government representation.
Escambia County makes determinations on those district lines based on actual residential population, unlike other counties that may use prison population as part of district residents.
Escambia County Administrator Tony Sanks said the population of prisons in the county is excluded when district lines are determined.
“The district lines in the county were redrawn in 2001 following the last Census,” Sanks said. “The prison count was not included when a determination was made on the number of residents living in a particular area were considered.”
Sanks said the reason for that is simple — prisons aren’t served by the county.
“We don’t serve the prison systems in any way so they simply are not included as constituents in a district,” Sanks said. “They maintain their own roads and take care of their own services. Since we don’t serve them, we don’t count them as part of a district.”
In my view, the ideal solution is for the Census Bureau to count incarcerated people at their home, not prison, addresses. But Escambia County’s solution is a good interim step that avoids giving some districts extra representation just because they happen to contain a large prison.
Read the rest of the article.