NPR, All Things Considered, 09/26/21: Prisoners are among the country’s least powerful people. But every 10 years, where they’re counted in census numbers can shift political power in the United States.
And as mapmakers turn last year’s census tallies of incarcerated people and other U.S. residents into the next decade’s voting districts, 11 states are trying to block what critics call “prison gerrymandering.”
That little-known practice involves determining the areas elected officials represent with census numbers that count prisoners as residents of where they are incarcerated. With those tallies, some redistricting officials have created local voting districts filled mostly with people who are locked behind bars and, in most states, cannot vote.
There’s a growing movement, though, to modify those census numbers before they’re used for redistricting — by reallocating counts of incarcerated people to where they last lived before they were imprisoned.