New Jersey bill to end prison-based gerrymandering passes first step

by Aleks Kajstura, May 15, 2012  

Will New Jersey be the next state to end prison-based gerrymandering? Yesterday, S1055, a bill to count incarcerated people at home for redistricting purposes, passed the New Jersey Senate’s Committee on State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation.

Senator Cunningham introduced the bill in January, and the bill was now up for consideration before the Senate committee. There was great turn-out in support of the bill, and I joined several people in presenting testimony: Brother Aula Sumbry (Integrated Justice Alliance of New Jersey), Dr. Johanna Foster (Integrated Justice Alliance), Alex Shalom (ACLU – New Jersey), Nicole Plett (Building One New Jersey), Lawrence Hamm and Jean Ross (People’s Organization for Progress), and Scott Nolen (New Jersey Institute for Social Justice).

When voting to pass the bill, Senator Turner (District 15) noted that she was voting in favor of the bill even though she had large prisons in her district. If New Jersey values fairness and equality as much as Senator Turner does, then the state will soon be the 5th in the country to end prison-based gerrymandering at the state level.

New York and Maryland implemented their laws ending prison-based gerrymandering this past redistricting cycle and California and Delaware’s laws will first apply after the next census. The New Jersey bill will now go onto the full Senate.

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