U.S. Second Circuit - The FindLaw 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

NAACP Prison Gerrymandering Case Heating Up

Last summer, the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the state of Connecticut over prison gerrymandering, and recently, the federal district court rejected the state's motion to dismiss, allowing the case to move forward towards summary judgment.

As the court explained, based upon the allegations, the NAACP and the several individual plaintiffs have adequately pled that the state's prison gerrymandering violates equal protection.

What's Prison Gerrymandering?

If you are unaware of what prison gerrymandering involves, simply, it's the practice of considering incarcerated individuals residents of the voting district where they are incarcerated, rather than where they lived prior to incarceration.

Due to the demographics of prison populations and where the prisons are physically located, this ends up relocating a lot of voting power out of urban areas and into rural areas. What's more is that the practice of prison gerrymandering actually makes the votes of rural voters in districts with prisons more impactful.

This happens based on the body counts in the voting districts. Essentially a rural district can cover more land if it has a prison, and the voters in that district can carry more sway, because the prison population can't vote.

What's Next in This Case?

Next up in this matter are discovery, then summary judgment. And unfortunately, the litigants are working against a clock as the case seeks to resolve the gerrymandering problem prior to the 2020 election.

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