Dale Ho of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund testifies before the Kentucky Legislature on prison-based gerrymandering
by Leah Sakala, August 24, 2011
Yesterday, Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), testified about the issue of prison-based gerrymandering before the Kentucky General Assembly’s Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs.
In his compelling testimony, Mr. Ho explained that prison-based gerrymandering distorts the allocation of political representation in Kentucky on both the county and the state level, pointing in particular to House Districts 59 and 77, where 8.1% and 5.6%, respectively, of the so-called “residents” are are behind bars. He also pointed out that both Kentucky state law and court rulings on the state and federal level unambiguously say that incarcerated people are not legal residents of the facility in which they are imprisoned.
Mr. Ho explained to the legislature that prison-based gerrymandering often has the effect of painting a false picture of racial demographics, illustrating this point with the example of Morgan County, where only 18 of the 611 African American county “residents” counted by the Census Bureau in 2000 were not incarcerated.
One Kentucky county, Boyle County, refused to engage in prison-based gerrymandering after the 2000 Census by excluding the prison population for redistricting purposes. Mr. Ho urged Kentucky to follow Boyle County’s lead and develop a state-wide plan to end prison-based gerrymandering.
For further coverage of Mr. Ho’s testimony, see this morning’s Richmond Register article.