Colorado Approves Law Ending Prison Gerrymandering

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DENVER, COLO. – Colorado became the eighth state to pass a law ending prison gerrymandering last Friday. Imprisoned individuals will now be counted for the purposes of redistricting in their last pre-incarceration address instead of the address in which the prison is located. Counting people at their prison results in unequal representation by artificially inflating the populations of districts with prisonsWith the passage and signing of House Bill 20-1010, Colorado makes political representation fair by counting people in prison in their last place of residence under the Census.  

Statement by Amanda Gonzalez, Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause.   

“House bill 1010 is a victory for fair maps in Colorado. It will make sure that our new independent redistricting commissions draw more accurate and representative political districts for our state legislature and for our congressional seats. Under this reform, no legislator or congressional representative of either party would benefit politically any longer because of the state prison in their district that bloats their local population. 

Previously, Colorado voting maps have been drawn so that incarcerated people are arbitrarily included in the district of the state prisons they are serving time in, which is often far away from their home. The new maps will rebalance our state’s political representation so that the power of communities of color—which are disproportionately and unjustly impacted by the criminal justice system—is not eroded to the benefit of rural areas where prisons are often located.   

By applying a common sense ideal that a prison should not become someone’s home—the bill removes a perverse incentive for elected officials in the legislature or in Congress to want more people imprisoned in their districts, since the increase of incarcerated individuals in their area inflates their political power. House Bill 20-1010 fixes the problem of prison gerrymandering and counts incarcerated people in their last home address.”  

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Colorado Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. The organization helped craft and pass Amendments Y and Z in 2018, which created the new independent redistricting commissions. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empowers all people to make their voices heard in the political process.