Politics & Elections

Rep. Felix calls on redistricting commission to end prison gerrymandering

The RI Redistricting Commission will hold a special hearing on November 10 at 6pm in room 310 the Rhode Island State House to take up the issue of prison gerrymandering.
Photo for Rep. Felix calls on redistricting commission to end prison gerrymandering

Published on October 28, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

Representative Leonela Felix (Democrat, District 61, Pawtucket) has written a letter to the state’s legislative Reapportionment Commission asking the board to change the way prisoners are counted for the apportionment of Senate and House districts.

“The practice of prison malapportionment offends the fundamental principle of equal representation and inflicts tangible harm upon incarcerated individuals and communities like mine, which they call home,” wrote Representative Felix. “For these reasons, I respectfully request that you consider discrediting this practice and count incarcerated individuals at their pre-incarceration residences.

“Rhode Island, like most states, counts incarcerated individuals as residents of the jurisdictions where they are incarcerated, rather than where their pre-incarceration homes are located. Since political districts are drawn based on population, districts with prisons, like Cranston – rather than the home districts of incarcerated individuals – benefit from the population bump.

“Given the demographics of our cities and towns in Rhode Island, it’s plain to see the result of this practice creates an artificially inflated representation for the City of Cranston, and communities like mine are thus negatively affected by this practice.”

The state constitution calls for the General Assembly to reapportion its districts as well as the two congressional districts after each 10-year federal census.

The RI Redistricting Commission will hold a special hearing on November 10 at 6pm in room 310 the Rhode Island State House to take up the issue of prison gerrymandering.

The next meeting of the RI Redistricting Commission will be held at 6 pm on November 8 at the the Kickemuit Middle School in Warren.

See all previous reporting on the 2021 Redistricting process in Rhode Island here:

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