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  World’s largest jail skews voting power in controversial New York district
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Last EditedRBH  Jan 18, 2009 02:51pm
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News DateMonday, August 9, 2004 08:50:00 PM UTC0:0
Description New York State Senate District 34 was discussed in the column last week. This district straddles the border between Bronx County in New York City and suburban Westchester County. If the New York City residents in state prisons had been counted at home rather than in upstate prisons, the Bronx side of the border might have been populous enough to dominate the district. District 34 also has a remarkable shape and story. The New York Times described the shape as “a doughnut that has had a bite taken out of it and then been run over by a car”. The district was apparently created to include many white communities, while excluding the African-American community in the center as well as the home of a political opponent of the incumbent. (See original map at right.)

The district configuration was a hotly contested issue at the redistricting taskforce meeting in the Bronx that I testified at in March 2002. I maintained that even though the U.S. Census currently counts prisoners as if they were permanent residents of the state prison, the New York State Constitution requires an adjustment to Census Bureau data. The prisoners should be counted back at their home addresses because their legal residence does not change during incarceration. Without this population adjustment, New York City loses 43,740 residents to the upstate areas that contain state prisons.
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