Prisons and Gerrymandering

Miller-McCune's Emily Badger points out a study on prison-based gerrymandering, a byproduct of how the Census counts inmates. Prison populations are counted as residents of the county where they are imprisoned, rather than where they're from--thus, some rural counties have inflated population counts and subsequently receive inflated representation in state legislatures. And it has an impact:


During the 2000 census, 43,000 New York City residents were counted upstate in this way. Remove them, and seven state senate districts would not have met minimum population requirements and would have had to be redrawn, setting off a chain reaction throughout the state, according to a report released this week by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

There are racial and demographic arguments here: because the U.S. prison population has a disproportionately high African-American subset, representation is effectively taken away from African-American communities given it to rural white communities when African Americans from cities are sentenced to prison terms. The report says this whole effect is "due in large part to the War on Drugs."
Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Politics

Just In