NotesVolume 4, Issue 2 (2014)

The Numbers Matter: An Update to the Implementation of New York’s Prison Gerrymandering Law

Citation:4 COLUM. J. RACE & L. 205 (2014)


To combat the rise of “Prison-Based Gerrymandering”, the New York State Assembly enacted a law requiring prisoners to be counted in their “home” districts. These laws changed the Census Bureau’s “usual residence rule”, which required the Bureau to count prisoners in their places of incarceration. While the law has been a firm step forward to combat prison gerrymandering, the law excludes from reapportionment prisoners who cannot provide a known address. This Note argues that New York has provided no legal justification for excluding prisoners from reapportionment, especially given the fact that there are many in similar situations who are counted. The Note also proposes some solutions to make sure that other states passing these reforms are not excluding prisoners from the census count for unwarranted reasons.