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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 24, 2021 10:51 AM
From: Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr.
To: All House members
Subject: Prison Gerrymandering
According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, “Prison-based gerrymandering is a practice whereby many states and local governments count incarcerated persons as residents of the areas where they are housed when election district lines are drawn.   This practice distorts our democratic process by artificially inflating the population count—and thus, the political influence—of the districts where prisons and jails are located.  As a result, the voting power of everyone living outside of those districts is weakened.”
We need to end a terrible practice known as prison gerrymandering. Prison gerrymandering inflates the populations of legislative districts with incarcerated individuals who do not have the ability to vote. This ultimately dilutes the political power of the remaining constituents. This provides the legislator with additional influence while being accountable to less constituents. As we approach redistricting here the Commonwealth, my proposal has an added urgency and should be acted on.

For purpose of redrawing districts, my legislation will require incarcerated individuals to be counted as living at their previously known address and not the prison in which they are being held. It is time we end this practice and allow an equal number of people to have equal influence over the legislative process. Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB1424