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Courts in Michigan and Wisconsin have stuck down their legislative maps, providing a rare mid-decade opportunity to immediately end prison gerrymandering.

by Mike Wessler, January 17, 2024

While most people around the country were focused on the festivities of the holiday season, courts in two states — Michigan and Wisconsin — ordered them to redraw their legislative districts after they were ruled unconstitutional. This move provides each state with a rare opportunity to address prison gerrymandering in the middle of a decade, rather than waiting for the next Census.

Prison gerrymandering is a problem created by the Census Bureau. During its tally every decade, it erroneously counts incarcerated people as residents of prison cells, rather than in their home communities, artificially inflating the population of prison towns. When states then use this data to draw new legislative districts, areas that contain prisons get additional political clout, at the expense of everyone else.

More than a dozen states have taken action to fix the Census Bureau’s error — including “red” states like Montana and “blue” states like California. Momentum on this issue has been so swift, in fact, that the fiercely bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures recently called it “the fastest-growing trend in redistricting.” Roughly half the country now lives in a place that has addressed the problem.

The court-ordered redistricting in Michigan and Wisconsin gives each state a chance to join this growing movement, but they have to act fast.


Michigan’s chance to address racial disparities

In late December, federal judges ruled that 13 Detroit-area state legislative districts unfairly diluted the political clout of Black residents, and ordered the state’s independent redistricting commission to redraw them for the 2024 elections. Commissioners have until February 2 to produce new maps.

While the court only explicitly ordered that 13 districts be redrawn, changing the lines of these districts will almost certainly have statewide ripple effects.

Because the court ruling involved the dilution of Black representation, it is important to remember the disproportionate impact that prison gerrymandering has on Black residents in the state. Black residents are 13% of the state’s population but 51% of the people in state prisons. As a result of this disparity and the state’s failure to address prison gerrymandering, Black political representation across Michigan is being unfairly diluted.

As the redistricting commission draws new districts, it should address prison gerrymandering to return some political clout to Black communities in the state. In addition, the legislature should adopt Sen. Sylvia Santana’s bill to end prison gerrymandering in the state permanently. The state already prohibits prison gerrymandering in local government districts; ending it in state legislative districts is the next logical step.


Wisconsin’s opportunity to draw more fair districts

The day after Michigan’s districts were struck down, the state Supreme Court in neighboring Wisconsin also struck down that state’s legislative maps. Wisconsin has long been considered one of the most politically gerrymandered states in the nation. This order provides an opportunity to draw fair Wisconsin maps for the first time in decades.

Addressing prison gerrymandering won’t solve all of the issues with Wisconsin’s current legislative districts, but it will be a meaningful step toward ensuring fairer representation in the state.

Is there enough time for these states to address prison gerrymandering?

Time is tight, but there is an quick — albeit imperfect — solution to address the worst impacts of prison gerrymandering.

Both of these states are unquestionably working on tight timeframes. Some will question whether they have the time or data necessary to fully address prison gerrymandering in these new legislative maps.

Ending prison gerrymandering completely by counting incarcerated people in their home districts is obviously the preferred solution, but mapmakers in these states shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. There is a simple — albeit partial — solution that can address the most distortive impacts of prison gerrymandering and can be implemented quickly, even if the states don’t have address data for people in prison.

Here’s how this solution works. When drawing new maps, instead of counting incarcerated people as residents of the district that contains the prison, mapmakers reallocate this population statewide. While this will not fully return political representation to the communities most impacted by incarceration, it will ensure that communities that contain prisons don’t get a dramatically outsized voice in government.

For example, in Wisconsin’s Assembly District 53, roughly 8% of people counted in that district are incarcerated and live outside of that area. That means that 92 residents of that district have the same political sway as 100 residents in any other district that doesn’t have a prison. Ending prison gerrymandering will ensure that residents of this district don’t get a louder voice in government, simply because they live near a prison.

Recognizing that the governor and state legislature would be unlikely to reach a consensus on new maps, the court appointed two experts to review the submitted maps. They can then either alter the submissions or produce their own maps that resolve the court’s concerns. Notably, these experts have helped Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York — three states that have addressed prison gerrymandering — draw their current legislative districts. Since these two experts already understand this issue and the ways to solve it, the final maps they propose should address prison gerrymandering to the fullest extent possible.


Failure to act means at least eight more years of prison gerrymandering

Redistricting officials in these two states have a lot of work ahead of them, and not much time to do it in. Ending prison gerrymandering in the state should be near the top of their list of priorities.

We’re hopeful that the Census Bureau will fix its prison gerrymandering mistake in the 2030 count. But Michigan and Wisconsin don’t have to wait that long to fix their prison gerrymandering problem. They have an opportunity to end prison gerrymandering while addressing problems with their state legislative maps right now. They should take advantage of it.

Report highlights growing bipartisan support for counting incarcerated people in their home communities.

by Mike Wessler, November 9, 2023

A new report from CHARGE (the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting & Grassroots Engagement), a coalition of good-government groups working to improve the redistricting process, makes clear that ending prison gerrymandering has quickly gone from an emerging issue done by only a handful of states, to being among the gold-standard redistricting practices.

Prison gerrymandering is a problem created because the Census Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the wrong place — a prison cell — rather than in their home communities. When state and local governments use this data to draw new government districts every decade, they inadvertently give more political clout to districts that contain prisons, at the expense of everyone else.

The report is based on hundreds of interviews and surveys that members of CHARGE conducted with advocates and organizations involved in the redistricting process in each state. It gave every state’s redistricting process a grade from “A-” to “F”. In addition to addressing prison gerrymandering, these grades are also based on best practices related to transparency, opportunities for public input, the willingness of decision-makers to draw districts based on that input, adherence to nonpartisanship, empowerment of communities of color, and policy choices.

Several key findings related to prison gerrymandering emerge from the report:

  • Prison gerrymandering reforms have become increasingly nonpartisan: The report notes that in Montana, which it gave a B grade, “(d)espite a polarized atmosphere in which commissioners of different parties were unable to agree on final maps, the (Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission’s) vote to end prison gerrymandering was unanimous and bipartisan.”
  • States that addressed prison gerrymandering received some of the highest grades: 15 states received a grade of B- or higher; seven of them (California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Washington) had already taken action to address prison gerrymandering. Another state in this group, Maine, has since also passed legislation for the 2030 redistricting cycle.

This report follows a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which looked at states’ experiences ending prison gerrymandering during the 2020 redistricting cycle. In an accompanying briefing, the organization notes that ending prison gerrymandering is “the fastest-growing trend in redistricting.”

While the best way to address prison gerrymandering is for the Census Bureau to change how it counts incarcerated people, these reports show that states can and should take action to address the problem on their own. And, even though the 2030 redistricting process is still several years away, now is the ideal time for them to do so. Passing legislation now will ensure states have the data and process in place to take on this task after the 2030 count, it will also add their voices to the growing chorus calling on the Census Bureau to change its outdated policy.

These two reports, when taken together, highlight the need — and growing bipartisan calls — for the Census Bureau to finally take steps to end prison gerrymandering nationwide. As the 2030 count draws closer, it remains to be seen whether the Bureau will get an A or an F on this easy test.

New law, sponsored by Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross, ensures people in state prison are counted for redistricting at the same place they vote.

July 5, 2023

On Friday, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed LD 1704/HP 1093 into law, officially ending prison gerrymandering in state legislative districts by counting incarcerated people at their home addresses for redistricting purposes. With this measure, sponsored by Speaker of the House Rachel Talbot Ross, Maine is one of 18 states that have addressed this issue to create fairer legislative representation.

Prison gerrymandering is a problem created by the Census Bureau counting incarcerated people as residents of their prison cells rather than in their home communities during the decennial count. This practice artificially inflates the populations of areas that contain prisons, giving these areas additional political clout when state and local governments use this Census data to draw new district lines every ten years. Reforms, like Maine’s, allow state officials to adjust their redistricting data to count people in prison at their pre-incarceration address, giving a more accurate picture of the area’s population and more equal representation in government.

This victory in Maine is particularly noteworthy as the state is one of two that allows people in prison to vote. People in Maine prisons register and vote at their pre-incarceration address. The reform signed last week aligns the state’s redistricting laws with these voting laws.

The new law also ensures that redistricting data reflects the community ties of incarcerated people. While someone may be incarcerated away from home on Census Day, they remain a member of their home communities. In fact, for most people who are away from home for long times, the Census Bureau recognizes the importance of family and community ties and counts them at home (e.g., truck drivers, boarding school students, members of Congress, military personnel) but fails to apply the same rules to incarcerated people. Maine has just ensured that incarcerated people and communities hit hardest by mass incarceration are treated the same as everyone else for redistricting purposes.

Map showing places that have addressed prison gerrymandering.

“Maine is the latest state to reject the flawed way that the Census Bureau counts incarcerated people,” said Aleks Kajstura, Legal Director of the Prison Policy Initiative. “This measure is another piece of evidence of the growing consensus among the states on prison gerrymandering. One big question remains: will the Census Bureau listen to these states and change how it counts incarcerated people, or will it stubbornly dig in its heels and continue to force governments to modify redistricting data to make it usable?”

While it may seem like the 2030 Census is a long time from now, by passing this legislation this year, Maine will have enough time to collect the data necessary to ensure it can successfully count incarcerated people at their homes during its next redistricting period, a practice other states considering this reform should follow.

Roughly half the country now lives in a place that has addressed prison gerrymandering, with more than 200 local governments and 17 states tackling the issue. Progress on this issue has been so rapid that the National Conference of State Legislatures, a strictly bipartisan organization that assists state lawmakers on policy issues, recently called state efforts to end prison gerrymandering “the fastest-growing trend in redistricting.”

Federal legislation would require the Census Bureau to count incarcerated people at their true homes, rather than in prison cells.

by Danielle Squillante, April 26, 2023

Today, Congresswoman Deborah Ross from North Carolina, along with Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, and Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes of Ohio, introduced legislation to end prison gerrymandering nationwide. The bill would require the Census Bureau to count incarcerated people at their last known residence rather than their prison cell, which is where the Bureau currently counts them. When states and local governments draw political districts using Census data that counts incarcerated people in prisons, they unintentionally enhance the representation of people who live near prisons while diluting the representation of everyone else. This legislation would ensure that every community receives equal political representation.

The introduction of this bill comes on the heels of Montana — with wide bipartisan support — passing legislation to end prison gerrymandering in the state permanently. Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed the measure — which received near-unanimous support — into law yesterday.

The Census Bureau has the ability to fix this problem on its own but thus far has stubbornly refused to do so. There are plenty of reasons for it to make this change:

  • Governments are increasingly rejecting the Bureau’s flawed way of counting incarcerated people, signaling the agency is not meeting its responsibility to provide data that is ready for use by state and local governments;
  • The Bureau’s way of counting incarcerated people ignores the realities of modern incarceration;
  • Communities of color are disproportionately harmed by prison gerrymandering; and
  • The Bureau’s policy treats incarcerated people differently than others in similar situations.

State and local governments already recognize the importance making this change. Roughly half of the U.S. population lives in a place that has taken steps to end prison gerrymandering, with over a dozen states and over 200 local governments — both urban and rural — taking action on this issue. In the absence of a federal solution, these states and local governments have had to make corrections and adjustments to Census data to ensure it accurately reflects its population. After the 2020 redistricting process, states expressed frustration with the current process and challenges they faced, including accessing data in a timely manner, adjusting the data so it aligns with state laws, and getting address information for individuals in federal custody.

The best way to solve this problem is for the Census Bureau to change its policies to count incarcerated people at home — something it can do today without legislation. By acting to make this change now, before legislation is passed, the Bureau can develop a comprehensive research and implementation plan that ensures this transition is smooth and thoughtful. However, today’s bill shows that if the agency fails to act, lawmakers in Congress are increasingly ready to force it to finally fix this problem.

State asks Census Bureau to end this problem nationwide.

February 13, 2023

For immediate release — This weekend, Montana’s Districting and Apportionment Commission officially approved new legislative maps that count incarcerated people at their homes instead of in prison cells, ending prison gerrymandering in the state. During the redistricting process, ending prison gerrymandering consistently received unanimous, bipartisan support from commission members and was championed by Native American leaders in the state. Montana is the third state to address this problem without legislation1. It is among more than a dozen states and over 200 local governments that have ended the practice.

Prison gerrymandering is a problem created because the Census Bureau incorrectly counts incarcerated people as residents of their prison cells rather than their home communities. As a result, when states use Census data to draw new legislative districts, they inadvertently give residents of districts with prisons greater political clout than all other state residents. Montana’s actions limited that injustice in the state.

“The maps approved by Montana’s redistricting commission will ensure that all residents of the state have an equal voice in the decisions made by their legislative leaders,” said Aleks Kajstura, Legal Director of the Prison Policy Initiative and a long-time advocate for reform. “This victory represents a clear, bipartisan rebuke of the broken and outdated way the Census Bureau counts incarcerated people.”

In addition to approving new legislative districts, the Commission has called on the Census Bureau to count incarcerated people at home in 2030. In a letter to the Bureau, it notes this change “would create more complete, useful redistricting data for policymakers and line drawers in the future.”

Montana’s success was not without difficulties. As a result of the Census Bureau’s flawed method of counting incarcerated people, the Commission was forced to hire outside experts to fix the data at taxpayer expense. Even still, the state was still hampered by missing address data for many incarcerated people.

“The members of the Districting and Apportionment Commission should be commended for addressing this problem under a tight timeline and with considerable obstacles,” Kajstura said. “The Census Bureau should act on the Commission’s request to change how it counts incarcerated people as it develops rules for the 2030 Census.”

Roughly half of U.S. residents now live in a city, county, or state that has taken action to end prison gerrymandering.

Map showing half the U.S. population lives in a places that has ended prison gerrymandering.

Commission members also asked the state’s Congressional delegation to pass legislation to end prison gerrymandering, asked the state’s governor and Department of Corrections to collect home addresses for incarcerated people, and brought forward legislation to permanently address this issue in the state. The legislation has already passed the Senate with bipartisan support and is currently making its way through the House.

The national movement to end prison gerrymandering began in 2001 when the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population, combined with an outdated Census Bureau rule to distort political representation in this country. Since then, more than a dozen states and over 200 local governments have taken action to address this problem.


  1. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also addressed prison gerrymandering through their redistricting commissions.  ↩

Yet another paper urges Census Bureau to put the issue at the top of its list of changes.

by Mike Wessler, December 6, 2022

As the Census Bureau wrapped up its first public comment period in its planning process for the 2030 Census, an important — and to many, unexpected — voice called on it to finally end prison gerrymandering. In an editorial, The New York Post, which is owned by News Corp — the same company that owns Fox News — called on the Bureau to finally count incarcerated people as residents of their homes instead of in their prison cells.

NY post editorial

In its editorial, the Post notes that the Census Bureau’s practice of counting incarcerated people as residents of prisons is “a form of gerrymandering.” It explains that this practice gives extra political power to communities that host prisons at the expense of everyone else. The paper also points out that the Bureau fails to count incarcerated people the same way it does truckers, boarding-school students, military personnel, and others away from home on Census Day.

Some may be surprised that a paper like the Post, which has often taken conservative stances on issues related to crime and incarceration, would join the chorus of voices that have called for an end to prison gerrymandering. However, a closer examination of the history of this issue (including this 15-state summary of editorials and news articles presented to the Census Bureau in 2014) shows it has long received support across the country from both sides of the political spectrum, including.

Redistricting is a notoriously rancorous process, so how has addressing prison gerrymandering managed to avoid being bogged down in partisan political fights?

On a practical level, elected officials — particularly in local government — have experienced the distortive effects of prison gerrymandering firsthand. And, as a matter of principle, the New York Post put it bluntly and eloquently when it said the practice is “fundamentally wrong, and at odds with the Census’ duty to provide a true picture of the nation.”

In closing its editorial, the Post said, “(prison gerrymandering) belongs at the top of the list” of issues the Census Bureau should address in the 2030 count. We disagree with many of the stances the paper has taken on many issues, but on this one, they took the words right out of our mouths.

New law builds on the previous measure that ended the practice in state legislative and congressional redistricting.

by Mike Wessler, March 16, 2022

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that strengthens the state’s anti-prison gerrymandering law by making it apply to city, county, and other local governments when they redistrict. Washington was the fifth state to end the practice in state legislative and congressional redistricting. By extending this law to local governments, Washington is now among the gold standard states that have ended prison gerrymandering.

Prison gerrymandering occurs because the Census Bureau erroneously counts all incarcerated people as residents of their prison cell rather than their home community. Most people in prison don’t come from communities where they are incarcerated and return to their home community after release. Because of their small size, local governments feel some of the most dramatic impacts of prison gerrymandering. When a city or county includes a prison’s population when redistricting, it gives residents who live closest to the prison significantly more political clout and diminishes the residents’ voices in other districts.

Under the law, when new census population data is released every ten years, the state redistricting commission will adjust the data to count incarcerated people in their home communities rather than where they are incarcerated. Local governments will then use this adjusted data to draw their new district lines rather than the data provided directly by the Census Bureau. The legislation applies only to redistricting and will not affect federal or state funding distributions.

While the law will not impact the current redistricting process, cities and counties that have not yet drawn new district lines can take steps on their own to draw more fair districts that do not use incarcerated people to pad populations. After the 2010 census, at least three Washington counties took part in prison gerrymandering.

Prison gerrymandering is a problem that can best be solved if the Census Bureau changed its policy to count incarcerated people as residents of their home communities rather than a prison cell. Roughly half of all residents of the United States now live in a city, county, or state that has addressed prison gerrymandering. The actions by Washington to strengthen its anti-prison gerrymandering laws add to the growing consensus that the Census Bureau should end this unjust practice once and for all.

Decision by redistricting commission means 44% of people incarcerated by the state will be counted in the right district

by Mike Wessler, January 10, 2022

It is almost time to add Rhode Island to the growing list of states that have taken steps to end prison gerrymandering. Last week, the state’s redistricting commission voted to count some of the people incarcerated at the Adult Correctional Institute (ACI) in their home districts instead, when drawing state legislative and congressional districts. The bipartisan vote of 15-1 showed overwhelming support for what we hope is a first step toward ending prison gerrymandering in Rhode Island.

Although a small step, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Over the last two decades, advocates on the ground have led the charge to end prison gerrymandering, and this change represents the first concrete step taken by the state to draw districts that accurately and fairly count incarcerated people. That is something worth celebrating.

However, the work to end prison gerrymandering in Rhode Island is far from over. Rather than reallocating all people incarcerated at ACI back to their home communities, the state will only reallocate people who were either not yet sentenced on Census Day or people expected to be released by April 1, 2022. That means only 44% of people incarcerated at ACI will be counted in their home districts. It is an unfortunate and arbitrary choice to count such a small portion of people in their home community. The choice is even more frustrating when you remember state law says a person doesn’t stop being a resident of their home district when they are incarcerated. That is true whether someone is incarcerated for a day or a lifetime.

It’s imperfect progress, so what’s next?

The first step is finalizing the new maps in the state. In the coming weeks, the commission will produce its proposals. Then, this spring, the legislature will give the maps final consideration. After that, legislators should look to build upon and solidify the progress that has been made by passing legislation that ensures that all incarcerated people in the state are counted in their home communities for the purposes of drawing district lines in the coming decades.

Ultimately, though, the piecemeal actions taken by the Rhode Island Redistricting Commission are further evidence that the best way to end prison gerrymandering is for the Census Bureau to change the way it counts incarcerated people to end prison gerrymandering nationwide. Now that yet another state has joined the emerging consensus on this issue, there is even more reason for the Bureau to count incarcerated people at home in the first place.

A confusing and outdated attorney general opinion has forced Wisconsin local governments into prison gerrymandering, but there is still time to fix this before districts are drawn for the next decade.

by Mike Wessler, October 26, 2021

Small, rural cities and counties are particularly susceptible to the impacts of prison gerrymandering. Low populations and a prison building boom have combined to distort local governance and representation in unanticipated ways.

Few places exemplify this problem as vividly as Wisconsin. Take Adams County, which is north of Madison, for example. After it redrew its lines in response to the 2010 census, this community had a district where incarcerated people made up 62.5% of its population. That means 38 residents here have the same political representation as 100 residents in any other district without a prison. It’s even worse in Waupun, where people incarcerated there make up 75.5% of a district, meaning every 25 residents in this district have the same political clout as 100 residents in other parts of the city.

However, no part of the state feels the distorting local impacts of prison gerrymandering quite like Juneau County. After the 2010 census, as the county looked to redraw its political lines, each district needed to have a population of roughly 1,200 residents to ensure equal representation. However, a new massive prison built recently in the county complicated their efforts to draw fair districts. The prison was so big that if leaders included it in a district, it would mean that twenty residents in that district would have as much political representation as 100 residents in districts without a prison.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article

John Wenum, a longtime county supervisor who oversaw the county’s redistricting efforts in 2011, recently explained to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “(The incarcerated people) weren’t residents in the normal sense… it actually skewed things in some very significant ways.”

Leaders in Juneau County recognized this was a problem and wanted to fix it, so they sought guidance from the state on how to do that, but were told their hands were tied. They learned an outdated and confusing 1981 opinion from the state’s attorney general directs local governments to draw new district lines without excluding incarcerated people. It requires local governments to take part in prison gerrymandering, even though they didn’t want to. In the absence of other legislative or regulatory guidance, attorney general opinions hold significant legal weight, so Wenum and other leaders felt they had no choice. He told the Journal Sentinel, “The attitude here was ‘We’re not going to rock the boat, we’ll go with the flow.'”

The bad news is this opinion meant that for the last decade, some residents of the county have had considerably more say in the actions of their county government than their neighbors.

But the good news is state and local leaders in Wisconsin still have the opportunity to fix this problem for the next decade.

Attorney general opinions are powerful, but like local district lines, they are not set in stone. Wisconsin’s current attorney general, Josh Kaul, can issue a new legal opinion that updates the outmoded legal reasoning from 1981 and makes it clear that local governments can address prison gerrymandering, and there are plenty of reasons for him to do so.

In recent years, more than a dozen states have taken meaningful actions to end this practice, more than 200 local governments have done so, too. Federal courts have ruled against prison gerrymandering. Even the Census Bureau has recognized the validity of efforts to fix this problem and taken steps to make it easier for governments to exclude or reallocate prison populations when drawing new district lines.

As we speak, cities and counties across the country are beginning the process of redrawing their political districts for the next decade. If Attorney General Kaul takes action soon to issue a new opinion, he can help Wisconsin local governments avoid being stuck with another decade of districts distorted by prison gerrymandering.

Pennsylvania and Montana poised to become first states to end prison gerrymandering without legislation, a solution the Prison Policy Initiative has recommended in other states as well. New Jersey expands its law to cover congressional and local districts.

by Mike Wessler, August 31, 2021

Redistricting has officially begun across the country, and over the last few weeks, several states have taken important steps to ensure people who are incarcerated are counted at their homes when new districts are drawn rather than in a prison cell.

The most significant of these victories occurred in Pennsylvania, where Rep. Joanna McClinton worked with advocates to add that state to the growing list of places that have ended the practice of prison gerrymandering when drawing legislative districts. This victory was particularly important because instead of relying on legislation, the independent Legislative Reapportionment Commission decided to end the practice on its own, making it the first state to do so. In urging other members of the commission to take this step, McClinton made the implications of the decision clear when she said, “We cannot wait another ten years. The time to correct this injustice is right now.”

The Keystone State may have been the first to address prison gerrymandering through its independent redistricting commission, but it likely won’t be the last. In Montana, a bipartisan consensus has formed on the need to fix the problem. Members of the state’s redistricting commission recently voted unanimously to take steps toward ending prison gerrymandering in legislative redistricting. They also are asking the state’s governor and congressional delegation to take action to help end the practice and urging the U.S. Census Bureau to end prison gerrymandering nationwide–a step we’ve advocated that the agency take for nearly twenty years.

Finally, lawmakers in New Jersey, a state that previously ended prison gerrymandering in legislative redistricting, recently voted to expand their law to make it apply to congressional and local government redistricting as well. The measure was recently signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

a map showing the areas that have addressed prison gerrymandering

The next few months are sure to be a whirlwind, but it is still not too late for state and local governments to ensure equal representation for their residents. As we’ve seen in Pennsylvania and Montana, states can use their redistricting commissions to solve this issue without legislation. Similarly, cities, counties, and school boards can use information contained in the recently released census data to avoid prison gerrymandering when drawing their new districts.

The redistricting decisions made over the coming weeks and months will have implications for the next decade. As of today, 40% of the country lives in a state, county, or municipality that has formally rejected prison gerrymandering. While new lines are drawn over the coming months, we’re committed to growing this number further.

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