Ending prison-based gerrymandering in your community, your state and in the nation


“Voters who come to understand how this system cheats them are unlikely to keep rewarding the politicians who support it.”

Prison-Based Gerrymandering, New York Times editorial, May 20, 2006

The Census Bureau may have counted incarcerated people in the wrong place, but your state and local governments are not powerless to fix the problem. The states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, and California plus more than 200 cities and counties have already taken action. You need to make sure that your leaders seize the opportunity.

If you live in one of the states listed below, can join an established campaign:

More state campaigns are expected to form shortly. But you don't need to wait. You can get the facts about your state and start your own campaign. And in any event, join our newsletter for breaking news and analysis.

Much of the action is likely to take place in rural counties and cities that contain large prisons, because a single large prison can be a large part if not the majority of a district. There, campaigns tend to form quickly and achieve victory even more quickly.

To help you start your own campaign, we've published our research on counties and cities that we know currently engage in prison-based gerrymandering, and those that don't and prepared a Democracy Toolkit to help rural democracy activists determine if prison populations are skewing their current districts in other jurisdictions. Contact us if we can help you apply these resources to your local situation.

We also published Preventing Prison-Based Gerrymandering: What to Watch For, a guide to tell you what to look for in your state's redistricting data and proposed plans in order to minimize the harm of prison-based gerrymandering.

Elected officials and members of organizations should also consider passing resolutions calling on the Census Bureau to change how incarcerated people are counted. And in addition to formal resolutions, organizations and individuals should respond to the Census Bureaus' calls for comments on the residence rules, for a sample of these letters sent in 2016, see our 2016 Federal Register Notice page. A change at the Census Bureau is the best and most efficient solution.

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