Help End Prison Gerrymandering Prison gerrymandering funnels political power away from urban communities to legislators who have prisons in their (often white, rural) districts. More than a decade ago, the Prison Policy Initiative put numbers on the problem and sparked the movement to end prison gerrymandering.
“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”—Brent Staples
The Prison Policy Initiative launched a movement to protect our democracy from the prison industrial complex. And we’re winning; 47% of US residents now live in a state that has formally rejected prison gerrymandering. Here is the progress at a glance:
The national movement against prison gerrymandering began in 2001 when the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to seriously distort how political decisions are made in this country. We put numbers to the problem and suggested solutions in a series of reports and sparked a national movement.
Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress towards ending prison gerrymandering:
To support further progress, we released a guide to ending prison gerrymandering for state legislators. A joint effort with SiX, it includes lessons from our previous advocacy, detailed policy recommendations, talking points, and more to guide states introducing and passing legislation.