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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Some New York Counties Include Inmate Populations When They Redistrict

From NYTimes.com: A new study has found that 15 counties in New York, as well as the five that make up New York City, include inmate populations when they redistrict or apportion votes in local legislative bodies.

In five of those counties, the study concluded, the inmate population was large enough in one or more districts to dilute the political power of residents in the others. Thirteen counties that have prisons exclude inmates when drawing district lines.

“New York counties with prisons are faced with a tough choice — adjust the federal census data to ignore prison populations, or rely on the census and draw districts where some citizens are granted extra political clout because they happen to live next to a prison,” said the report, by the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group that favors alternatives to prison sentences and urges that inmates be counted in their real hometowns.

Critics have long complained about “phantom voters” and “prison-based gerrymandering” in the allocation of Congressional and state legislative districts. The new study calls attention to the practice in local government.  Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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