Redistricting Bill Would Change How Prisoners Are Counted

A bill before the California Senate may change a small but important part of the redistricting process.

The California constitution says that the state should count prison inmates for the purpose of redistricting where they live, not where they're incarcerated.

But that's not been what's happening, said California Assemblyman Mike Davis.

"Unfortunately, California has been counting prisoners for the purpose of redistricting where they are incarcerated," Davis said.

Davis argues the practice has the effect of improperly inflating the population count in some districts and that affects how district lines are drawn.

The unintended consequence, said Davis, is that districts have some individuals who represent  large numbers of prisoners that are not in their communities, are not their constituents, and don't vote.

"In one of  our Assembly Districts, we have one individual that represents 40,000 prisoners," Davis said.

Assembly Bill 420 would change that, Davis said, and "makes it what California's constitution says it ought to be."

The bill is supported by a number of organizations including the NAACP, the Latino Coalition of Los Angeles, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.

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