Prison Gerrymandering and the Census

By Alicia Dorsey

From PHN Issue 43, Summer 2020

There is a national call to end prison gerrymandering—to end the manipulating of our votes and federal resources. Prison gerrymandering was started by the Republican party and their erroneous “tough on crime” propaganda. Prison gerrymandering manipulates our votes by building prisons, jails, and youth residential placement in areas of small populations, to inflate the area’s population for the census count every 10 years.

The census count began in 1790 to count our population. In 1902, the United States Census Bureau was formed under the Commerce Department to produce data about us and our economy. The census uses the collected data to create political representation and federal funding allocations based on counting people at their place of residence the day of the census count. This federal funding includes monies
for public health and other social services that many of our brothers and sisters behind bars are denied. The incarcerated community are only considered residents of the voting district where their prison is located on the day of the census count. Our brothers and sisters behind bars, in most states, are not permitted to vote in the district that used them for population count. They are not permitted to use the
schools, playgrounds, or hospitals (unless on their dying beds), allocated in their names by the census count. And the neighborhoods or cities where our brothers and sisters behind bars come from are not granted the federal funding that they would have received if people were not in prison elsewhere.

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Transgender Housing in Prison

By Fatima Malika Shabazz

From PHN Issue 41, Winter 2020

Hello everyone: Since it’s been so long since I’ve written an article for Prison Health News, it makes sense that I introduce myself. My name is Fatima Malika Shabazz. I am a formerly incarcerated Afican American Transwoman. The last time I wrote anything for Prison Health News, it was due to a civil action I filed against the California Department of Corrections. Since that time, I have been released on parole; I have also been heavily involved in advocacy and activism surrounding either reforming or eliminating bad department of corrections policies related to the trans population.

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