Local governments that avoid prison-based gerrymandering

Last update: August 31, 2022


“Many counties with large prisons within their borders have rejected the practice of counting inmates as ‘residents’ when they saw how doing so allowed lightly populated towns near prisons to hijack a disproportionate share of political power while diminishing the power of towns that did not have prisons.”

Prisons and Redistricting, New York Times editorial, December 21, 2011

Ten states (California, Connecticut, Colorado, Mississippi, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington) encourage or even require local governments to exclude prison populations during redistricting, but local governments in other states have taken initiative to solve the problem on their own. This page lists county or municipal governments that are known to have avoided prison-based gerrymandering when drawing local districts after the 2010 and 2000 Censuses. We’re still working on the list of districts drawn after the 2020 Census. If you know of other places to be added to either list, please contact us.

Note: These listed communities avoid prison gerrymandering by various means that all achieve the same result of giving equal representation to residents who live adjacent to and far from the prison. These methods include: ignoring the prison population, cutting a hole in their maps around the prison, overpopulating the district with the prison by the exact amount of the prison population, or splitting the prison population between all districts equally. Not included on this list are the communities like Anamosa, Iowa and Berlin, New Hampshire that abolished their districts as a way to avoid prison-based gerrymandering.

Select counties, cities and towns that avoided prison-based gerrymandering after the 2010 Census

  • Alabama counties: Escambia
  • Alabama cities: Brent, Town of Clayton, Columbiana, Wetumpka
  • Arizona cities: Douglas
  • Arkansas counties: Hot Spring, Lee, Lincoln, St. Francis
  • Arkansas cities: Forrest City, Malvern
  • California counties: Amador, Del Norte, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Madera, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Tuolumne.
  • Colorado cities: Brighton, Cañon, Centennial, Golden, Sterling
  • Connecticut towns: Cheshire, Enfield
  • Florida counties: Bradford, Franklin, Gulf, Lafayette, Madison, Okeechobee, Washington
  • Florida school districts: Bradford County School District, Okeechobee County School District
  • Georgia counties: Butts, Calhoun, Dooly, Johnson, Macon, Stewart, Tattnall, Telfair, Washington, Wilcox
  • Georgia cities: Claxton, Glennville, Gray, McRae, Ocilla
  • Illinois counties: Bond, Christian, Crawford, Fayette, Fulton, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lee, Livingston, Montgomery, Rock Island, Will
  • Illinois cities: Canton, Chester, Crest Hill, Danville, East Moline, Galesburg, Jacksonville, Pontiac, Robinson, St. Charles
  • Indiana counties: Vigo
  • Indiana cities: Crown Point, Terre Haute thumbnail of Terre Haute Tribune Star editorial in praising city council for ending prison-based gerrymandering
  • Kentucky counties: Casey, Elliott, Lee, Marion, McCreary, Morgan, Oldham
  • Kansas counties: Leavenworth
  • Kansas cities: Lansing
  • Louisiana parishes: Avoyelles, Caldwell, Claiborne, Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Grant, Iberville, La Salle, Richland, West Carroll, West Feliciana, Winn
  • Louisiana cities: Town of Amite City, Oakdale
  • Maine school districts: MSAD 40 (Knox County)
  • Maryland counties: Somerset
  • Maryland cities: Baltimore
  • Michigan counties: Branch, Gogebic, Saginaw
  • Mississippi counties: Adams, Greene, Sunflower, Tallahatchie
  • Mississippi cities: Holly Springs, Lucedale
  • Missouri counties: Cole, Pike, Randolph
  • Missouri cities: Bonne Terre, Clayton, Farmington, Hillsboro, Jefferson, Licking, Tipton, Vandalia
  • Nebraska counties: Johnson
  • New Jersey cities: Camden
  • New York counties: Cayuga, Clinton, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Genesee, Greene, Oneida, Orleans, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Westchester
  • New York cities: Beacon, Brookhaven (town)
  • North Carolina counties: Caswell, Columbus
  • Ohio cities: Lima
  • Oklahoma counties: Alfalfa, Blaine, Greer, Holdenville, Hominy, Woods
  • Oklahoma cities: Lawton, Town of McLoud, Sayre, Watonga
  • South Carolina counties: Allendale, Edgefield, Lee, Marlboro, McCormick
  • South Carolina school districts: Jasper County School District
  • South Dakota counties: Bon Homme
  • Texas counties: Anderson, Bastrop, Bee, Bowie, Brazoria, Brown, Burnet, Cherokee, Childress, Concho, Coryell, Dawson, DeWitt, Dickens, Duval, Fannin, Freestone, Frio, Garza, Hale, Haskell, Houston, Howard, Jack, Jones, Karnes, Kinney, La Salle, Live Oak, Madison, Medina, Mitchell, Pecos, Potter, Reeves, Rusk, Terry, Walker, Wichita, Willacy
  • Texas cities: Big Spring, Brownfield, Bryan, Henderson, Huntsville, Karnes City, Mineral Wells, Post, Victoria
  • Texas school districts: Fort Stockton Independent School District, Marlin Independent School District
  • Virginia counties: Brunswick, Greensville, Lee, Prince George, Richmond, Sussex
  • West Virginia cities: Moundsville
  • Wisconsin counties: Crawford
  • Wisconsin cities: New Lisbon, Portage, Prairie du Chien, Stanley

Select counties, cities and towns that avoided prison-based gerrymandering after the 2000 Census

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