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Coalition Urges New York to End Prison-Based Gerrymandering

Today the Brennan Center for Justice urges New York State Senate and Assembly leaders to end prison-based gerrymandering. To kick off the campaign, the Brennan Center is joining a broad coalition of advocates at a City Hall press conference.

January 28, 2010

For Immediate Release
January 28, 2010

Coalition Urges New York to End Prison-Based Gerrymandering

New York – Today the Brennan Center for Justice urges New York State Senate and Assembly leaders to end prison-based gerrymandering. To kick off the campaign, the Brennan Center is joining a broad coalition of advocates at a City Hall press conference.

In most of New York, people in prison are counted in the 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.

The campaign being launched today will urge passage of legislation that would use the 2010 Census to count people who are in prison in their home districts rather than the districts where they are incarcerated. Sponsored by Senator Eric Schneiderman and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, the legislation could affect the redistricting landscape in upcoming elections.

“When the Census tallies incarcerated people at prison locations far from home, the picture of the American civic community is distorted, with profound ramifications for our democracy,” says Erika Wood of the Brennan Center. “The policy gives public officials in prison districts an incentive to build their districts on the backs of ‘ghost voters,’ packing in prisoners who count toward the district size but who are not permitted to vote,” says Wood.  

If people in prison were excluded from the population counts, seven current state congressional districts would be too under-populated to qualify as districts at all. Under the pending legislation, legislative districts would accurately reflect the members of their communities.  



For more information or to speak with Erika Wood, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at 212-998-6289 or at jeanine.plant-chirlin@nyu.edu. Also, please visit www.brennancenter.org.

WHO:  Community groups and advocates, Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Elected Officials  
WHEN: Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 10:00am
WHERE: New York City Hall – Steps