Prison Gerrymandering: Who counts in Pennsylvania? That depends on who’s counting

Pennsyvania Capital-Star, 01/17/22: “Long before I could name it, I experienced prison gerrymandering at a maximum-security prison in central Pennsylvania for men who refused or were unable to adjust to the department’s rules and regulations. As if to cement that reputation, every time prisoners exited the cell block, we walked through the prison’s rotunda where, enshrined within glass, was a leather saddle used to break horses. The implication was obvious: Men could be broken, too.

In that rural prison, it was easy to feel that I did not count, especially since I was stripped of my right to vote. Little did I know my body was being traded for political favors via prison gerrymandering. In my 27 years inside, I came to understand prison gerrymandering as another tactic to undermine Black Political Power, kin to the Black Reconstruction backlash, when white legislatures rolled back Black political gains.

Ending prison gerrymandering is just as important as ending the Jim Crow Black Codes, yet the district maps that are being debated today, just months before midterms, continue to reflect the unjust reallocation of political power that we need to stop.”

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