Statement on Prison Gerrymandering for People with Longterm Sentences
Today we are enraged at the decision of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission to accept Senator Kim Ward's amendment. This amendment will severely limit the LRC's prior decision to mostly end prison gerrymandering. Last month the LRC decided to allow people in prison to be counted in their home communities instead of where they are incarcerated.
The prior decision which was based on a proposal put forward by Joanna McClinton didn't apply to people serving life without parole and unfortunately that carve out set the stage for the defeat we suffered today.
Now, the LRC has further limited that decision by allowing people who have 10 years or more to serve before they reach their minimum to be counted in the places where they are imprisoned. On top of 5,000 lifers this will count an additional 3,000 people where they are held captive.
We believe unequivocally that no people in prison should be counted based on the location of the prison they are housed in and that all prison gerrymandering takes away our communities' political power.
With these decisions approximately 20% of people incarcerated in state prisons will continue to have their political power given to the communities that house the prison where they are incarcerated.
These attacks will continue throughout the redistricting process because people with power don't want our communities to have the representation we deserve. We will continue to fight against all prison gerrymandering and Senator Ward's amendment. We know this was a blatant attack on Black and brown communities across the commonwealth and we recommit ourselves to the important work of making sure that all of our communities are counted and represented in our government.