New Common Cause Oregon report calls for end to prison-based gerrymandering

by Leah Sakala, February 16, 2012  

Common Cause Report Cover

A new report released by Common Cause Oregon recommends ending prison-based gerrymandering as a critical step for improving Oregon‘s redistricting process. Ending prison-based gerrymandering in Oregon would bring the state’s redistricting process in line with both the state constitution and with the federal principle of “one person, one vote.”

The report shows that prison-based gerrymandering is especially problematic for the City of Pendleton:

The City of Pendleton in Umatilla County provides an Oregon example of the negative effect on democracy of claiming incarcerated people as constituents of the prison location. The Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution is 28 percent of a Pendleton city council district, giving every 3 residents of the ward with the prison the political power of 4 residents in other parts of the city. Department of Corrections statistics show that virtually everyone incarcerated at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution comes from other parts of the state.

The solution is clear:

Common Cause Oregon recommends legislative action to end prison gerrymandering in 2021 by excluding prisoners in redistricting unless the Census Bureau changes its policy of counting prisoners where they are confined in its 2020 count.

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