Virginia counties may be given more choices in avoiding prison-based gerrymandering

by Aleks Kajstura, December 30, 2011  

The News and Advance of Lynchburg, Virginia reports on bill HB13, already pre-filed in the state legislature by Delegate Riley Ingram, that would allow the state’s counties to deviate from Census population totals to avoid letting prisons skew the populations used to draw Board of Supervisors districts. Unlike in most states, counties in Virginia are required to use federal Census data when redistricting.

The law currently gives counties where incarcerated people make up more than 12% of the Census population the option to avoid padding the Board of Supervisors district that contains the prison with the prison population.

If the bill passes, the law would be expanded to apply to federal and regional correctional facilities, not just state prisons. It would also let counties such as Southampton County, where a prison accounts for less than 12% of the county’s Census population, but was still forced to draw a district that was more than half incarcerated, the option exclude the prison population when redistricting. It would guarantee that no county would be forced to draw a district where a prison makes up more than 12% of the district’s population.

The amendments will be a welcome change to many of Virginia’s counties. As Pittsylvania County County Administrator Dan Sleeper is quoted stating, “[y]ou want a fair representation of voters in your district.” Even with the amendments, the law would not benefit the residents of Pittsylvania County, because their prison population does not distort their districts enough to meet the statute’s requirements. But the changes would double the number of Virginia counties eligible to avoid prison-based gerrymandering.

4 Responses

  1. Roanoke Times urges Virginia to “move in the right direction” towards ending prison-based gerrymandering | Prisoners of the Census says, 6 days, 17 hours after publication:

    […] out our recent blog posts Virginia bill would help counties avoid prison-based gerrymandering, and Virginia counties may be given more choices in avoiding prison-based gerrymandering. Related posts:Virginia counties may be given more choices in avoiding prison-based […]

  2. Virginia bill against prison-based gerrymandering passes House unanimously | Prisoners of the Census says, 1 month after publication:

    […] makes up 12% or more of the county’s total population. HB 13 would allow any county with a single district that’s 12% or more incarcerated to exclude prison populations for redistricting purposes, more than doubling the number of counties […]

  3. Virginia bill against prison-based gerrymandering passes Senate committee | Prisoners of the Census says, 1 month, 3 weeks after publication:

    […] 13 would give any county with a single district that’s 12% or more incarcerated the opportunity to avoid prison-based […]

  4. Virginia bill against prison-based gerrymandering passed Senate, on to Governor for signature | Prisoners of the Census says, 1 month, 3 weeks after publication:

    […] 13 would give any county with a single district that’s 12% or more incarcerated the opportunity to avoid prison-based […]

Tweet this page Follow @PrisonPolicy on Twitter Get our newsletter Donate Contact Us


Events

  • September 21, 2016:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be speaking at Claremont McKenna College in California. Details TBA.

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