VA Legislature urged to change prisoners’ role in districting

2001 law designed to help some counties end prison-based gerrymandering should be expanded to give all counties the same power.

by Peter Wagner, September 7, 2010

Frank Green has an excellent story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about the impact of prison-based gerrymandering in county government in Virginia. After the 2000 Census, the legislature passed a law allowing counties with census populations that are more than 12% incarcerated to exclude the prison population when drawing districts. Unfortunately, this left a number of counties with large prison populations ineligible for the new law and required to draw districts that give the prison districts extra influence.

In Southampton County, for example, the residents who live near the prison have more than twice the influence over county affairs as residents of other districts. Ideally, the legislature will change the law and allow all counties to exclude the prison populations from the districts if they wish.

For more information, see Frank Green’s article, Legislature urged to change prisoners’ role in districting or our Virginia research page.

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