Sample Resolution Prepared for a California County calling on the state to end the practice of prison-based gerrymandering

WHEREAS, obtaining an accurate count of the population is so vital to representative democracy that the framers of the United States Constitution addressed the issue of the census and apportionment in the opening paragraphs of this governing document; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court of the United States requires state and local government to redraw legislative districts each decade on the basis of population, so as to ensure each resident the same access to government; and

WHEREAS, the United States Census Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the census block that contains the prison, but California law declares that confinement in a prison does not change a person's domicile (California Election Code S2025); and

WHEREAS, basing legislative districts on Census Bureau data that counts incarcerated people in the wrong place serves to enhance the voting power of the districts that contain prisons; and

WHEREAS, prisoners are drawn from around California, disproportionately from minority communities, but are concentrated in only 33 prisons, far from where they live; and

WHEREAS, crediting many of California's incarcerated people to a few locations enhances the political clout of the people who live near prisons, while diluting the voting power of all other Californians; and

WHEREAS, the Delaware, Maryland and New York state legislatures all passed bills prohibiting prison-based gerrymandering in their states, requiring redistricting data to reflect incarcerated persons' home addresses; and

WHEREAS, the State of California fails to provide a comprehensive solution providing the state and all local governments with the necessary data to apportion legislative districts based on actual population; and

WHEREAS, despite the encouragement of the Census Bureau's own advisors on the National Research Council to count incarcerated people as residents of their home addresses, the Bureau again counted incarcerated people in the wrong place in 2010; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Supervisors of [County] wishes to eliminate from the state the distasteful practice that has come to be known as "prison-based gerrymandering"; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED THAT as long as the United States Bureau of the Census does not implement a policy of reporting incarcerated persons at each such person's residential address, the state of California should pass legislation requiring that Census data be adjusted to reflect actual populations when used for redistricting purposes, ending the practice of prison-based gerrymandering within California's borders.

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