NJ State Senators act to end prison-based gerrymandering

Two New Jersey State Senators proposed legislation to end prison-base gerrymandering and it was approved by the senate 25-9.

This is how prison-based gerrymandering works and why it’s so destructive to the families of incarcerated individuals:

This system makes it possible for districts where prisons are located to appear to have a low median income by claiming inmates as residents. Because inmates don’t earn money, when they are counted as residents of the district they lower the median income for the entire population. Meanwhile, back at home where his family lives, the no-wage prisoner is not being claimed as a resident and the income for that district is artificially high – so his home district doesn’t get funding and all of the attendant resources that could provide real help to the single parents left behind who are struggling to keep their families well, despite one parent being away and unable to contribute to the family coffers.

Prisoners’ families don’t get that funding, because the communities where parents are being jailed are the ones getting it – even though those communities don’t need the funding anywhere near as much as the home communities do.

In fact, residents of towns where prisons are located can live comfortably on the perks associated with having a prison in town. Besides benefiting from extra funding for their district due to prison-based gerrymandering, residents also benefit from prison jobs … and local businesses are bolstered by sales to prison workers and maybe, also by selling goods to the prison itself. The prison industry provides for folk in the towns where prisons are located, pretty well overall.

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