Connecticut press demands an end to prison-based gerrymandering

The Norwich Bulletin urges the legislature to pass bill to count incarcerated people at home for the next redistricting cycle.

by Leah Sakala, July 24, 2012

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Lately the Connecticut press has been buzzing with coverage of prison-based gerrymandering. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s affirmance of Maryland’s historic law ending prison-based gerrymandering, states like Connecticut are showing a renewed commitment to passing legislation to count incarcerated people at home for redistricting purposes in the next decade.

Most recently, the Norwich Bulletin printed an editorial, “Our View: Prisons Skew Census Numbers,” calling on the Connecticut Legislature to take action. The editorial explains why the question of where incarcerated people are counted is a big deal for Connecticut’s democracy:

Those skewed population figures also impact legislative boundaries that are re-apportioned every 10 years based on the U.S. Census. These individuals are ineligible to vote because they are convicted felons serving prison sentences, yet they are counted as residents in calculating and redrawing political boundaries.

Maryland adopted a law that counts prisoners as residents of communities of their last legal address, not the community where they are incarcerated — a law the U.S. Supreme Court upheld as constitutional earlier this month.

Connecticut has twice tried to adopt a similar measure, but with no success. We hope that lawmakers will try again next year.

This editorial also presented a great opportunity for our Executive Director to clarify that the legislation to count incarcerated people at their home address for redistricting purposes does not impact funding distribution in any way. It’s a common misunderstanding, but state or federal funding formulas are never based on state redistricting data.

And if you missed it, be sure to check out the recent Hardfort Courant editorial as well.

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