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.