A portrait of Peter Wagner.
Peter Wagner
Executive Director
I need your help. For 14 years, the Prison Policy Initiative has been at the forefront of the movement to keep the prison system from exerting undue influence on our electoral process. Our work has changed how our democracy works in 4 states and hundreds of local governments. We’ve even won at the Supreme Court, but our long-term viability depends on people like you investing in our work.

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—Peter Wagner
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Utica Observer-Dispatch to City of Rome, NY: It’s time to follow the law

by Leah Sakala, July 15, 2013  

The Utica Observer-Dispatch published a strong editorial calling on the City of Rome to comply with the New York law banning prison gerrymandering by updating its city council lines:

Our view: Free prisoners — from voting data

thumbnail of Observer Dispatch editorialRome needs to get rid of its prisoners in the Second Ward — at least on paper. More than two years after a state law passed requiring municipalities to account for prisoners when redrawing legislative lines, nothing has happened. The city is still counting prisoners as population, and while that might work for census purposes, it’s wrong to include them when voter representation is determined.

That must change. In 2011, 2,083 of the second ward’s roughly 5,000 residents were prisoners in the Oneida and Mohawk correctional facilities. But they do not vote or participate in city affairs.

The 2010 law provided two options: Either remove prisoners from the counts altogether or to use new state data that reallocates them to their hometowns. Either option is fair. What’s not fair is the status quo. Some believe lower numbers would affect state aid, but Peter Wagner, executive director of the nonprofit Prison Policy Initiative, says that’s not so.

Rome is considering redrawing ward lines. It should exclude the prisoners. Putting them in the mix is a grave injustice to taxpaying Romans.

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

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