Prison-based gerrymandering is over in Terre Haute, Indiana
City Council votes unanimously to exclude the prison population for redistricting purposes.
by Leah Sakala, May 11, 2012
The Tribune-Star reports good news for democracy in Terre Haute, Indiana:
Terre Haute is joining hundreds of other communities with big prison populations by voting to remove those prisoners when drawing legislative districts.
At the urging of the city’s legal department, the City Council voted unanimously Thursday evening to exclude the approximately 3,200 federal inmates in the city from being counted when officials draw new city council district boundaries this year. The move will allow each district to have approximately the same number of eligible voters, a redistricting priority.
The City Council’s decision is especially good news given the federal prison’s ballooning population growth over the last decade. Because the prison nearly doubled in size since the last redistricting cycle, the distortion of prison-based gerrymandering would have been particularly dramatic this time around: two people who live in the district that contains the prison could have had as much say in city affairs as three people in any other district.
Moving forward, residents of the city council district with the prison will no longer be granted unwarranted additional political clout at the expense of all other residents.
Way to go, Terre Haute!