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Brennan Center releases 2010 Redistricting Guide

by Aleks Kajstura, December 1, 2010

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law published their 2010 edition of “A Citizen’s Guide to Redistricting.”

The guide is “updated and expanded to include recent court decisions as well as the latest changes to state and congressional redistricting processes across the country. This Guide will provide engaged citizens with the knowledge and tools they need to get involved with this round of redistricting, and to work towards continuing reform in the decades to come.”

The report includes issues of prison-based gerrymandering in the larger context of decennial redistricting and provides an excellent summary of the impact of the Census Bureau’s prison miscount on redistricting efforts:

Incarcerated individuals – disproportionately poor and minorities – are currently tallied by the Census Bureau for redistricting purposes where they are imprisoned. This artificially inflates the voting power of prison districts, where people in prison generally cannot vote and are not meaningfully represented, at the expense of their home communities. Incarcerated individuals should be counted for redistricting purposes in the communities where they lived before their incarceration, which Delaware, Maryland, and New York recognized in their 2010 laws adjusting the Census population counts for redistricting. Similar bills were introduced in Congress, and in at least six other states, during 2009 and 2010. Furthermore, though local governments rarely have jurisdiction over both prisons and home communities, many local governments will use a new Census prison dataset in the 2011 cycle to adjust the population they do control: people in prisons who should not be considered permanent local residents for redistricting purposes.

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