RICHMOND, VA – Today the League of Women Voters of Virginia, in partnership with American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project (ACLU), ACLU Virginia, and the National Black Nonpartisan Redistricting Organization, filed an amicus brief in Adkins v. Virginia Redistricting Commission supporting counting individuals in the state where they are from and not where they are incarcerated. The anti-prison gerrymandering law passed Virginia’s general assembly in 2020.
“The anti-prison gerrymandering law should be used by the redistricting commission and does not violate Virginia’s constitution,” said Deb Wake, President of the LWV of Virginia. “Incarcerated people should be counted at their last home address, not in the communities where they are incarcerated. Otherwise, the political power of their communities is limited.”
Virginia's anti-prison gerrymandering law requires that inmates be counted at their place of residence, as opposed to where they are currently incarcerated. The groups filed their amicus brief in support of the Virginia Redistricting Commission’s right to exercise the anti-prison gerrymandering law to protect all communities and ensure there is not a disparate impact on people of color who are incarcerated. Black Virginians make up less than 21% of Virginia’s population but comprise 56% of Virginia’s incarcerated population.
“Incarcerated people should be counted where they have voting power,” said Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO of the League of Women Voters of the US. "Black and brown individuals are disproportionately represented in our prisons — not counting them in their communities dilutes the overall voting power of those incarcerated in a facility outside of their home state. Virginia’s redistricting commission must be allowed to exercise the anti-prison gerrymandering law when drawing Virginia’s maps.”
“The mass incarceration of Black and Brown Virginians takes away the voting power of those communities and adds voting power to mostly white, rural communities,” said Vishal Agraharkar, senior staff attorney at ACLU of Virginia. “We must end prison gerrymandering and count incarcerated people in their home districts to ensure the promise of ‘one person, one vote.’”
“The National Black Nonpartisan Redistricting Organization (NBNRO) appreciates the Virginia ACLU taking the lead and the Virginia League of Woman Voters for joining in this Amicus action to enforce the Virginia Statue restricting prison gerrymandering in the Commonwealth, a practice that has had race-based impacts on many communities in Virginia,” said Phillip Thompson, executive director of NBNRO. “The rights of the incarcerated to be counted within their home communities should not be a deprivation of their incarceration”
The League continues to push for equitable maps in the 2021 redistricting cycle through People Powered Fair Maps redistricting reform program.
PRESS CONTACT: LaQuita Howard | 202-843-0573 | [email protected]
The Latest from the League
Prison gerrymandering is the practice of counting people based on where they're confined rather than where they're from. This inflates representation in areas where prisons are built and dilutes the voting power of the people who are incarcerated and their home communities.
People Powered Fair MapsTM is a national redistricting program of the League of Women Voters focused on creating fair political maps nationwide. The program includes actions in all 50 states + D.C.
This blog is the first of a series of blogs about redistricting and the different issues it impacts.