Brennan Center Supports Prison Redistricting Law

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.