“Prison Gerrymandering” manipulates and distorts the voting process by counting people that are incarcerated as residents of the district in which they are imprisoned, rather than counted as residents of their home communities. The problem is that people who are incarcerated are counted as part of a community in which, in most cases, they will not be returning upon release. It is also problematic that incarcerated persons are counted as part of a district, but have no opportunity to engage in the voting process. Prison gerrymandering erodes the fibers of democracy and moral decency by siphoning political power into less-populated rural areas where prisons are located, and away from the urban communities
where people would return to. For more information on prison gerrymandering, read the Prison Policy Initiative’s PRISON GERRYMANDERING PROJECT.
By raising awareness and focusing our efforts, we can support HB 4276 and SB 151, and help put an end to prison gerrymandering. Here’s how:
- Send an email to the House Elections & Ethics Committee Chair, Ann Bollin, at [email protected], and request that HB 4276 be given a hearing.
- Send an email to the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Chair, Roger Victory, at [email protected], and request that SB 151 be given a hearing.
- Find other organizations and individuals interested in supporting and encourage them to uplift their voice and contact both chairs above.
Another way you can support ending prison gerrymandering is to provide testimony to the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The MICRC is leading the redistricting process to draw fair and independent maps, and empowers citizens to provide input on what best represents their interests. The commission will hold 16 public hearings, now through July 1. This means the last opportunity you will have to share your concerns with MICRC will be July 1! A link to the MICRC website with dates, times, and locations for public hearings is HERE. You can also attend virtually, and find next steps for MICRC HERE.
When providing testimony, it is important to:
- Be concise. You only have two minutes to speak. Writing out what you want to say may be useful!
- Personalize your story. Using a template is good, but stories are what pull at people’s heartstrings! Sharing how this has impacted you, your family, and your community, and why it is important to you may be the tipping point to getting the bills passed!
- If you do not wish to vocalize your concerns, you can also provide written testimony, and submit it HERE.
Redistricting is done every 10 years, so let your voice be heard and express your support to end prison gerrymandering!!
Questions, comments, or concerns, can be forwarded to VAAC at [email protected]