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Brennan Center Supports Prison Redistricting Law

The Brennan Center for Justice issued the following statement reacting to a lawsuit filed by State Senator Elizabeth O’Connor Little and other plaintiffs challenging New York’s landmark law allocating people in prison to their home communities for redistricting purposes.

April 7, 2011

New York – The Bren­nan Center for Justice issued the follow­ing state­ment react­ing to a lawsuit filed by State Senator Eliza­beth O’Con­nor Little and other plaintiffs chal­len­ging New York’s land­mark law alloc­at­ing people in prison to their home communit­ies for redis­trict­ing purposes.   The state­ment may be attrib­uted to Erika Wood, Director of the Bren­nan Center’s Redis­trict­ing Project:

"Currently, in New York people in prison are coun­ted in the federal Census where they are incar­cer­ated, rather than in their home communit­ies. This policy skews the demo­graphic char­ac­ter­ist­ics in both urban and rural locales through­out the state and has decim­ated the voting strength of poor and minor­ity communit­ies for decades. 

"For too long New York legis­lat­ive districts have been construc­ted on the backs of ‘ghost voters,’ pack­ing in pris­on­ers who coun­ted towards the district size but who were not permit­ted to vote.  At the same time, the home communit­ies – to which the vast major­ity of incar­cer­ated people return – were severely under-repres­en­ted in our govern­ment.  The new law assures that all communit­ies in New York have equal repres­ent­a­tion and an equal voice in our govern­ment.

“This new policy is now the law of the State. Now that New York has received all its Census data, the Legis­lature should be work­ing to imple­ment the new law to create fair districts through­out the state rather than filing legal chal­lenges which will undoubtedly delay the process.”

For the Bren­nan Center’s seminal report on this issue and other resources about the new law in New York, click here.