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Another decade of prison gerrymandering in Ohio

by Aleks Kajstura, October 3, 2013

We have a new fact sheet highlighting the problem of prison gerrymandering in Ohio after the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau’s practice of counting incarcerated people as if they are residents of the prison, rather than their home address, continues to have a major impact on voting equality in Ohio, where there are 15 state House districts and 8 Senate districts padded with significant incarcerated populations.

The map below shows how the Census Bureau’s prison count moves incarcerataed people across county lines (for more detail, see the table at the end of this post):

Map showing that significant populations are missing or added to counties by the Census prison counts. Counties lose as many as 9,146 people or gain as many as 5,181.

This skewed population data has a significant impact on legislative districts. After redistricting in 2011, each House District in Ohio was supposed to have about the same number of people, but some districts were credited with as many as 9,000 incarcerated people from other parts of the state. This gives voters in those districts extra influence and dilutes the weight of votes cast in districts that weren’t padded with prison populations. For example, District 92 (Fayette, Ross, and Pickaway Counties) was credited with 9,045 incarcerated people and District 86 (Union and Madison Counties) was padded with 7,189 incarcerated people.

Map showing 15 Ohio House districts that have substantial prison populations.

The effects of prison gerrymandering are even starker in cities that host correctional facilities. For example, 74% of a ward in the city of Marion is incarcerated, giving the residents of this ward four times the voting power of other city residents. The city of Lima, however, joined over 200 local governments across the country and avoided prison gerrymandering by refusing to pad the City Council wards with the Census’ prison count. So far Lima is the only city in Ohio that has adjusted the redistricting population to reflect actual town residents, but the city of Youngstown, now in the midst of redistricting, may yet follow Lima’s lead.

 

Table showing the Census Bureau’s prison count impact on county populations:
County Number of people in state prison from that county Number of people incarcerated in state or federal prison in the county Net change in county population because Census Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the prison location
Adams 131 0 -131
Allen 530 1,443 913
Ashland 148 0 -148
Ashtabula 315 1,500 1,185
Athens 291 0 -291
Auglaize 212 0 -212
Belmont 137 2,692 2,555
Brown 265 0 -265
Butler 1,469 0 -1,469
Carroll 45 0 -45
Champaign 227 0 -227
Clark 876 0 -876
Clermont 741 0 -741
Clinton 191 0 -191
Columbiana 237 2,473 2,236
Coshocton 132 0 -132
Crawford 131 0 -131
Cuyahoga 9,391 245 -9,146
Darke 92 0 -92
Defiance 254 0 -254
Delaware 330 0 -330
Erie 403 0 -403
Fairfield 294 1,540 1,246
Fayette 196 0 -196
Franklin 5,109 596 -4,513
Fulton 79 0 -79
Gallia 127 0 -127
Geauga 99 0 -99
Greene 592 0 -592
Guernsey 167 0 -167
Hamilton 4,970 0 -4,970
Hancock 277 0 -277
Hardin 124 0 -124
Harrison 33 0 -33
Henry 85 0 -85
Highland 235 0 -235
Hocking 127 485 358
Holmes 57 0 -57
Huron 147 0 -147
Jackson 116 0 -116
Jefferson 272 0 -272
Knox 140 0 -140
Lake 735 0 -735
Lawrence 322 0 -322
Licking 751 0 -751
Logan 145 0 -145
Lorain 1,029 3,929 2,900
Lucas 2,117 1,172 -945
Madison 113 4,856 4,743
Mahoning 1,002 2,612 1,610
Marion 415 4,594 4,179
Medina 372 0 -372
Meigs 127 0 -127
Mercer 85 0 -85
Miami 316 0 -316
Monroe 36 0 -36
Montgomery 2,751 886 -1,865
Morgan 36 0 -36
Morrow 58 0 -58
Muskingum 401 0 -401
Noble 10 2,533 2,523
Ottawa 87 0 -87
Paulding 69 0 -69
Perry 98 0 -98
Pickaway 238 3,598 3,360
Pike 75 0 -75
Portage 343 0 -343
Preble 115 0 -115
Putnam 77 0 -77
Richland 715 5,051 4,336
Ross 266 5,447 5,181
Sandusky 180 0 -180
Scioto 782 1,411 629
Seneca 206 0 -206
Shelby 162 0 -162
Stark 1,751 0 -1,751
Summit 2,607 0 -2,607
Trumbull 632 1,351 719
Tuscarawas 160 0 -160
Union 177 2,595 2,418
Van Wert 78 0 -78
Vinton 51 0 -51
Warren 397 4,212 3,815
Washington 189 0 -189
Wayne 210 0 -210
Williams 177 0 -177
Wood 340 0 -340
Wyandot 82 0 -82

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