Ohio feels effects of prison-based gerrymandering
by Aleks Kajstura, March 29, 2011
The Cleveland Free Press recently published an article on prison-based gerrymandering by Mansfield Frazier. Although Mr. Frazier would be happy to know that his concerns about losing federal funding based on Census Bureau prison population counts is unwarranted, his bigger concern is valid: Prisons in Ohio distort democracy in the state.
Our research on Ohio found that for the past decade Ohio House District 85 (in Ross, Pickaway and Fayette counties), was based on population data where 8.92% of the reported residents were actually prison populations. These disenfranchised prisoners are overwhelmingly from homes outside the district, meaning that the actual population of the district is very small. Every group of 91 residents in District 85 gets as much of a say over state affairs as 100 people living nearly everywhere else in the state.