Senate Passes Bill Ending Prison Gerrymandering In New York

August 04, 2010

Victory for Equal Representation For All New Yorkers

In a victory for fundamental fairness and equal representation, Eric Schneiderman and the Senate Majority passed an historic bill tonight to count people in prison in their home communities for the purposes of redrawing district lines, rather than the districts where they are incarcerated. Passed as part of the revenue bill, the measure now awaits the Governor's signature.

Because New York draws legislative districts around prisons and counts the people confined there – who can’t vote – as residents of the prison, New York has used the non-voting prison population to award greater legislative representation to districts that contain prisons at the expense of the communities that most incarcerated people call home. In one Assembly district in New York, 7 percent of its “residents” are in prison.

“We have made history in New York,” said Eric Schneiderman, the longtime lead sponsor of legislation to end prison-based gerrymandering. “This is a major victory for the equal representation of all New Yorkers, and a proud moment for our state. The practice of prison-based gerrymandering distorts the democratic process and undermines the principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ The overwhelming majority of upstate counties with large prisons already reject counting inmates for internal redistricting. This historic measure simply applies that fair standard to the drawing of state legislative districts. I urge Governor Paterson to sign our bill and end this injustice once and for all.”