Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Espaillat hails court ruling upholding prison gerrymandering reform

Espaillat applauded a court ruling that
upholds gerrymandering reform.
While there is absolutely zero consensus on what the state and federal districts will look like next year, at least one part of the process has taken a step forward: prisoners will be counted in the district they called home before incarceration, not the district where they reside during their sentence.

State Senator Adriano Espaillat congratulated Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (who represented Espaillat's district before winning the AG seat) on successfully defending the state law that Senate Republicans challenged.

Criticized by civil rights and good-government groups, prison gerrymandering wrongly counted prisoners as residents in areas where they are temporarily incarcerated, instead of the communities they come from, Espaillat says. Prison gerrymandering is especially harmful to minority, urban districts because that is where many of the prisoners come from, but then are incarcerated in upstate, rural districts.

“Prison gerrymandering harmed Downstate communities, particularly those with high numbers of minority constituents, like the ones I represent," Espaillat said. "It cost our communities valuable resources and equal representation in government. We commend Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for successfully defending the ill-conceived challenge to prison gerrymandering reform that we passed in the legislature last year.

“We must immediately implement requirements of the prison gerrymandering reform as part of the redistricting process and count incarcerated individuals as residents of the communities they come from. Additionally, we must move aggressively towards independent redistricting and restore New Yorkers’ faith in government." 

“As a lawmaker, I fought to end the practice of prison-based gerrymandering that distorted the democratic process and undermined the principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ This decision affirms and applies a fair standard to the drawing of state legislative districts and makes it easier for counties to do the same by providing them with an accurate data set," Schneiderman told the Daily News.
Here's the court ruling.
Prisoners Decision and Order

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