In the news: Massachusetts Redistricting Committee’s call to end prison gerrymandering
by Leah Sakala, January 9, 2013
Yesterday the Valley Advocate ran a great overview of the Massachusetts Special Joint Committee on Redistricting’s wrap-up report on the process of redrawing the Massachusetts district lines. As the article points out, the Committee found that prison gerrymandering presented a significant problem in the past redistricting cycle:
PPI has led the campaign to fix the problem, producing numerous reports showing the resulting political disparities in districts across the country. PPI also brought the matter to the attention of Massachusetts’ redistricting committee, whose report referred to the “tremendous amount of testimony and advice” it received on the issue. “We agree that the way prisoners are currently counted does a disservice to the state and should be changed,” the authors wrote.
The best solution, the report concludes, is for the Census Bureau to solve the problem nationwide by 2020:
The “most expedient and streamlined” fix […] would be for Congress to call on the Census Bureau to change its policy on counting prisoners. “The tabulation of prisoners should be at the forefront of Bureau priorities in evaluating and adjusting how the 2020 U.S. Census will be conducted,” said the report, which also recommended that the Legislature pass a resolution expressing its support of such a change—and take more dramatic action if necessary. “If the federal government fails to act, then the only recourse is to amend the Massachusetts Constitution,” the report said. “Such a change on the federal level, however, will rectify the perceived inequalities in counting prisoners and eliminate costly litigation for states to defend redistricting plans based on adjusting prison populations.”
I also talked about this great progress towards a Massachusetts resolution against prison gerrymandering with WHMP’s Bill Newman last week as a guest on his show. Give it a listen, and stay tuned for the resolution to be announced!