Peter Wagner, Executive Director
I need your help. For more than a decade, the Prison Policy Initiative has been at the forefront of the movement to expose how mass incarceration undermines our national welfare. We've won major civil rights victories in local governments, state legislatures and even the Supreme Court. But our long-term viability depends on people like you investing in our work.

Can you stand up for smart and effective justice policy by joining our small network of donors today? You can make a one-time gift, or even become one of our sustaining monthly donors.

Through the end of 2014, your contribution will stretch twice as far thanks to a match commitment from a small group of other donors like you.

I thank you for investing in our work towards a more just tomorrow.
—Peter
... (read more) (read less)

The secret beneficiaries of Maryland’s “No Representation Without Population” Act

by Peter Wagner, December 23, 2010  

With redistricting on the horizon, there have been a number of stories that discuss Maryland’s “No Representation Without Population” Act, passed last April, which will require that incarcerated people be counted at home for redistricting purposes. A number of the stories I read this week make the subtle but critical error of framing the discussion in terms of what Baltimore will gain from the new law at the expense of Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore.

The reality of the bill’s passage was significantly more diverse than the articles imply:

  • The bill’s lead sponsors in both chambers had massive prisons in their districts.
  • The bill passed with bi-partisan support.
  • The bill passed with urban, rural and suburban support.
  • Senators of both parties with large prisons in their districts spoke on the floor about their support for the bill.
  • The Delmarva Daily Times on Maryland’s Eastern Shore editorialized in support of the bill multiple times, calling it a “Victory for Fairness.”

True, the people incarcerated in Maryland’s prisons disproportionately come from Baltimore. But given the number of districts in Baltimore, and the fact that Baltimore itself contains a large prison complex, the impact on any individual district or the city in total will be quite small.

The real winners of the new law are every single person who doesn’t live in District 2B next to a prison with almost 7,000 people temporarily incarcerated there. 18% of this district’s population was actually incarcerated residents from other parts of the state. Padding district 2B with the massive prison population meant that every group of 82 people near the prison could exercise the same political power as 100 people in any other district. That’s one of the injustices solved by the new law.

If you don’t live in District 2B, the “No Representation Without Population” Act is a big win for you. (And that’s not even addressing the law’s even more dramatic and positive impact on redistricting in rural counties like Somerset County.)

Cindy Boersma made the same points more succinctly in an April 17, 2010 letter to the Washington Post.

Meet us

  • February 20, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner, Board Member Amanda Alexander and Advisory Board Member Bruce Reilly will present on a panel entitled “The fight against mass incarceration: Combining litigation and policy work for systemic change” at RebLaw at Yale Law School from 3-4:30pm.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

Events

  • February 20, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner, Board Member Amanda Alexander and Advisory Board Member Bruce Reilly will present on a panel entitled “The fight against mass incarceration: Combining litigation and policy work for systemic change” at RebLaw at Yale Law School from 3-4:30pm.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

Newsletters:

Get the latest updates by signing up for our newsletters:


Tweet this page Follow @PrisonPolicy on Twitter Donate Contact Us