Nov 5, 2021 - Politics
Florida redistricting: What to do with prisons
An illustration of a small prison cell with a big key hole set against a lime green background
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Does a prison inmate live in the county where they're serving time, or is home back home?

  • That's the question Democratic Florida lawmakers are raising on the cusp of drawing new congressional districts.

Flashback: For redistricting purposes, the Census Bureau has traditionally counted prisoners as residents of whatever facility they were in when the Census was taken — this year on April 1, 2020.

Yes, but: Some lawmakers say large incarcerated populations reward unearned political power to rural areas with a prison population that can't vote.

  • Florida had the third-largest number of people in state and federal prisons, jails and detention centers during the 2020 Census, with 149,000 incarcerated adults.

The big picture: Eleven states are breaking so-called "prison gerrymandering" this year and will be using prisoners' addresses in home communities to draw new districts, but Florida isn't one of them.

  • Florida Democrats are raising the issue so frequently that observers wonder whether they're laying the groundwork for a legal challenge.
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