3New York’s covered counties are represented by 16 Senate districts: Senate districts 17-22 and 25-34.
Under the benchmark plan, 11 out of 16 of these districts are majorityminority (Districts 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34).
II. Background on Part XX and the Elimination of Prison-BasedGerrymandering in New York
As discussed in further detail below, the addition of a 63
Senate District appearsto have been a direct response to the implementation of Part XX. To understand thischain of events, some background on Part XX is instructive.Part XX, which itself was the subject of a previous Section 5 submission by theState (Submission No. 2011-0652), was designed to end the practice known as prison-based gerrymandering, or the counting of incarcerated individuals where they areconfined, rather than in their home communities (where they remain legally domiciled),for redistricting purposes.
Generally speaking, the problem of prison-basedgerrymandering has been described as civil rights issue: prison populations aredisproportionately comprised of people of color, and are generally held far from theirhome communities; thus, the counting of prisoners as if they were ordinary constituentsin the places where they are confined, rather than in their home communities, has theeffect of reducing population counts in minority communities relative to other areas,diluting minority representation.
These general patterns were replicated in New York, where prison-basedgerrymandering had the effect of artificially inflating the reported population numbers of the disproportionately white areas where most state prisons are located. At the sametime, prison-based gerrymandering reduced population numbers in the minoritycommunities that are home to a disproportionate share of New York’s incarceratedpopulation.
These two distinct, but interrelated phenomena resulted in a dilution of political power for minority communities. As explained in more detail below, Part XX
New York Senate,
Member Directory as of 2/1/2012, available at
New York Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment,
2010 Census Data by District
, at S-5 to S-9,
Ex. A, Letter from Dale Ho to T. Christian Herren, dated March 18, 2011(hereinafter “LDF Comment Letter to Submission No. 2011-0652”), at 1-2.
, Dale Ho, “Captive Constituents: Prison-Based Gerrymandering and theCurrent Redistricting Cycle,” 22
Stanford Law & Policy Review
355, 360-62 (2011).
at 387-91; Ex. A, LDF Comment Letter to Submission No. 2011-0652, at 2-4(citing studies by the Prison Policy Initiative, and explaining that minority communities andresidents of New York’s covered counties are disproportionately represented among New York’sprison population).