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.

Can you help us continue the fight? Thank you.

—Peter Wagner, Executive Director
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Justin Levitt explains prison-based gerrymandering

Justin Levitt leads a discussion about the strategy and rationale of ending prison-based gerrymandering with advocates at the Redrawing the Boundaries: A Midwest Redistricting Discussion in October 2009.

by Peter Wagner, May 23, 2011

I just discovered video of a presentation that Justin Levitt made at the Redrawing the Boundaries: A Midwest Redistricting Discussion in Chicago in October 2009. He explains the problem of prison-based gerrymandering and then leads a detailed discussion with advocates about the strategy and rationale for reform. Although dated, it’s worth watching.

Questions include:

  • How are incarcerated people counted?
  • How are college students and the military counted?
  • Is there any data on how many prisoners–during the census period–return to their home communities, and as a consequence should be counted in their home communities?
  • If a state government elects to alter its prison count, when does that take place?
  • What’s the incentive for someone who benefits from a prison population to demand a census recount?
  • What are the primary effects of counting incarcerated people where they are incarcerated?
  • Does counting incarcerated people differ when it comes to congressional districts–versus state and local districts?

For more with Justin Levitt, see my podcast “Address Unknown” Podcast Episode #1 where we discuss the optimal way to structure a bill to eliminate prison-based gerrymandering.



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