Connecticut must stop depriving communities of their deserved resources and voting power through the practice of prison gerrymandering, the ACLU of Connecticut told lawmakers.

ACLU of Connecticut staff attorney, David McGuire, said, “The practice of prison gerrymandering essentially robs Connecticut’s poorest communities of desperately needed funding for programs and services that might actually prevent the next generation from coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Instead those services are sent elsewhere on behalf of an incarcerated person who will never have the opportunity to use them.”

Although prisoners are not allowed to vote, they are still counted as citizens for purposes of districting and allocation of representatives and funds. Currently, prisoners are not counted as citizens of the district they lived in when arrested but rather as citizens of the district where they are incarcerated.

The result is that those districts where prisons are located are treated as if they have a much larger population of voters than they actually do, giving more resources and voting power to the non-prisoner populations.

A 2013 report by the Prison Policy Initiative and Common Cause in Connecticut revealed that “Almost half of the state’s prison population comes from the state’s five largest cities, but almost two-thirds of the state’s prison cells are located in just five small towns.” The report also showed that, “There are seven majority-white state house districts that claim at least 1,000 incarcerated people of color as residents of their districts.”

Senate Bill 980 would end prison gerrymandering in Connecticut by requiring that incarcerated individuals be counted at their last home address for state redistricting purposes.

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