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Abolish Prison-Based Gerrymandering

WHEREAS, the upcoming 2020 Census will count incarcerated people as residents of the towns where they happen to be imprisoned at the time of the census, rather than of their home communities; and

WHEREAS, the vast majority of states will use this skewed information from the Census Bureau when drawing their district maps for state legislatures, even though they are not required to do so; and

WHEREAS, this practice, known as "prison-based gerrymandering," has the effect of artificially inflating the political power of rural and predominantly white communities where most prisons are located, while diluting the power of voters of color who live in the urban communities from which most prisoners originate; and

WHEREAS, this practice has the effect of denying equal representation to Black voters, in violation of the "one-person, one-vote" guarantees of the United States Constitution and many state constitutions; and

WHEREAS, in 2009 and 2010, the NAACP called for the Census Bureau to count prisoners as residents of their home communities, rather than where they are temporarily located against their will; and

WHEREAS, in the last decade, five states — California, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Washington — have passed legislation correcting their practices of prison-based gerrymandering, and nine other states currently have legislation pending that would accomplish the same; and

WHEREAS, in 2018, the NAACP and its Connecticut State Conference commenced litigation in federal court challenging Connecticut's unconstitutional prison gerrymandering scheme, and continue to make progress in that lawsuit; and

WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced at the federal level to correct this injustice and a prohibition on "prison-based gerrymandering," was included in extensive voting rights legislation, the NAACP-supported H.R. 1 in the 116th Congress, the For The People Act, which passed the House of Representatives in March 2019.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP reaffirms its 2009 and 2010 resolutions calling for the end of prison-based gerrymandering.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NAACP units will advocate in their state legislatures and governors' offices for legislation that would eliminate prison-based gerrymandering in their states.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will continue to advocate in the U.S. Congress and in the executive branch for the Census Bureau to count prisoners as residing at their last home address.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP Office of the General Counsel will continue to explore the viability of federal and state litigation challenging prison-based gerrymandering.