On August 3, 2010 it was announced that when districts are redrawn next year prisoners will be counted in their HOME districts. According to a website, www.prisonersofthecensus.org, "The measure, already passed by the assembly, was included in the budget package that now awaits Governor Patterson's signature.” That bill was signed into law on Aug 12. According to the same article, federal funding will not be affected by this change because the bill does not change the core census data. According to the organization “Prisoners of the Census” there are currently seven legislative districts in New York State that are only able to meet the minimum requirements for a representative by counting prisoners in to their population. This solution will put a stop to some past gerrymandering, but it might also severely weaken the political power of some small towns and rural counties.
(If you Google “counting prisoners” and “NYS
redistricting,” you can find lots of facts and strong statements for and against this bill.) So, how should we evaluate the pros and cons of the system that is most likely to be used as of 2011?
Those Who Want To Stop Counting Prisoners Where They Are Held In Jail Say: •
Some of the undemocratic practices of gerrymandering will be ended - packing prisoners who can’t vote to increase representation of those who live in the district (whose “community of interest” is likely to be very different from that of the prisoners, many of whom are minorities from urban areas).
More power will be given to districts downstate, where the majority of the prison population comes from. Therefore, the majority will have more equitable representation.
Because of a tradeoff in passing the law, this change in redistricting will not affect the amount of money distributed by the federal government; the policy of federal funds based on census population (including prisoners) will still be in effect.
Those Who Want To Continue To Count Prisoners Where They Are In Jail Say: •
Small districts will either lose power to a point where their influence is diluted (fewer representatives from upstate, rural areas), or some (seven) will actually not exist
Published on Oct 4, 2010
Prepared by Uniondale High School and The Wheatley School students, Doyin Akintobi, Jesse Manor, Kharolann Pierre, Candice Sejour, Daniel Wi...