Delaware House passes bill to count incarcerated people at home

Delaware is poised to follow Maryland and end prison-based gerrymandering.

by Peter Wagner, June 2, 2010

Yesterday, the Delaware House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that will count, for redistricting purposes, incarcerated people at their actual home addresses, not where they happen to be incarcerated. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The U.S. Census counts incarcerated people as residents of the prison location. Prison-based gerrymandering happens when state and local government bodies use Census counts to draw legislative districts, and they unintentionally enhance the weight of a vote cast in districts that contain prisons at the expense of of people residing in all other districts in the state. If passed by the Senate and signed in to law, Delaware would be the second state — after Maryland — to eliminate prison-based gerrymandering in their state.

New York and Rhode Island have similar bills pending for this legislative session. Other states are preparing to introduce legislation in the next legislative session just in time for the start of redistricting next year. The prompt and unanimous passage of Delaware’s bill in the House is a strong signal that prison-based gerrymandering is an unacceptable stain on American democracy.

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