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Prison population moving back downstate?

Aug 05, 2010 12:02 am
Late last night the New York State Senate passed an array of legislation, but the one bill that might impact our area the most
was a measure requiring prisoners be counted as residents not of the (mostly upstate) prisons where they reside, but where they lived before they were incarcerated (most often, New York City). "Most of the state’s prisoners (66 percent) are New York City residents, but the vast majority of them (91 percent) are counted as residents of upstate prisons," according to Prisoners of the Census. Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat running for attorney general told The New York Times, “If other states follow us, it would represent a major shift of political power back to these poor urban communities.” Indeed, this bill would mean that Greene County would lose a sizable portion of its population, and all sorts of funding could be lowered to reflect that change. The inmates inside Coxsackie Correctional Facility (approximately 1,000) at 11260 Route 9W; Greene Correctional Facility, 165 Plank Road, Coxsackie; and the Hudson Correctional Facility (about 600) at 50 East Court St. in Hudson; would no longer be counted as local residents. The Greene County Planning and Economic Development site counts 3,280 "institionalized" people, or 6.8 percent, many of which would, presumably, be counted elsewhere if this measure were to become law. Carole Osterink, in her blog The Gossips of Rivertown, analyzes what might happen in Hudson:
Since the Hudson Correctional Facility is located in the Third Ward, it would reduce the weighted votes of the Third Ward aldermen. The votes of Aldermen Ellen Thurston and Chris Wagoner now each represent 266 toward the 1,011 needed for a simple majority. The only votes on the Common Council more powerful than theirs are those cast by Aldermen Robert Donahue and Richard Goetz, whose votes weigh in at 278 each. Read the entire story in The Gossips of Rivertown.
Coxsackie would obviously face similar "re-districting" if this measure is passed, and possible local funding tied to population could be lost, and perhaps fewer regular visits from State Assemblyman Pete Lopez, State Senator James Seward, and Congressman Scott Murphy as their districts might be enlarged geographically to make up for the loss of prison population. Clearly, Seward is worried about the proposal, as he told The Daily Mail: “I clearly see this as a move to dilute the upstate population numbers to benefit downstate,” he said. Susan Campriello in The Daily Mail reports:
"According to a 2002 report Prison Policy Initiative report by Peter Wagner, roughly 3,000 constituents could be removed from Seward’s district. Such losses could decrease the area’s population to nearly 6 percent below the required average district size of 306,072."... Three facilities are located in [Seward's] district, which includes all or portions of seven counties. Two facilities are in Coxsackie, one is in Summit, in Schoharie County. Read the entire story in The Daily Mail.
Tracy Huling, a WGXC Founding Member in Greenville, and author of "Building a Prison Economy in Rural America," writes in in the comments:
My understanding is that the language of the legislation eliminating prison-based gerrymandering leaves intact federal and state aid to prison towns and counties. See North Country Public Radio’s story:
Also, Greene County (like 12 other counties in New York) already removes prisoners for the purpose of redistricting. See the Senate bill language at: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6725
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