Massachusetts’ Joint Redistricting Committee learning about prison-based gerrymandering
by Aleks Kajstura, May 18, 2011
Massachusetts is in the midst of redrawing legislative districts for the next decade. Brenda Wright, Director of the Democracy Program at Demos, testified about prison-based gerrymandering before the Before the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting of the Massachusetts General Court. The extensive and thorough testimony included this summary of the problem:
Because of the rise in incarceration rates, the practice of allocating incarcerated persons to prison districts substantially skews redistricting. As shown by research conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative, without using prison populations as padding, five Massachusetts House districts would not have met minimum constitutional population requirements after the 2000 Census.
Kevin Peterson provides more background on redistricting issues facing Massachusetts in a recent CommonWealth Magazine article.