For the purposes of legislative redistricting, Texas counts prison populations at the address of the prison in which they are incarcerated at the time of the census, rather than their home prior to incarceration—regardless of whether the prisoners themselves maintain a residence in their home communities and intend to return home after incarceration. This deprives those home communities of full representation in the redistricting process. Combined with Texas’s felon disenfranchisement laws, this also results in arbitrarily bolstering the representational power of some Texans on the backs of other Texans who themselves are unable to vote. All of this takes place against the backdrop of a long history of unconstitutional racial discrimination by the State of Texas and a broken criminal justice system. Some states have taken proactive policy measures to remedy the systemic problem of prison gerrymandering, and changing societal values might pave the way for new legal challenges to combat these injustices.
The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice
Rebecca Harrison Stevens, Meagan Taylor Harding, Joaquin Gonzalez & Emily Eby,
Handcuffing the Vote: Diluting Minority Voting Power Through Prison Gerrymandering and Felon Disenfranchisement,
Available at: https://commons.stmarytx.edu/thescholar/vol21/iss2/1
St. Mary's University School of Law
Riley F. Tunnell
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