Last week, David Sommerstein reported that Republican lawmakers — including state Sen. Betty Little – are suing to make sure prison inmates are counted where they are incarcerated, not where they’re from.
The dust-up was also raw material for Marquil’s latest political cartoon. Now the Utica Observer Dispatch has an article illustrating just how significant this debate might be.
They point to the district of Oneida County legislator David Wood, where roughly one-third of his “constituents” are behind bars.
Views on this differ wildly. Here’s what Sen. Joe Griffo, a Republican who took part in the lawsuit, told the newspaper:
“It’s not like [inmates] come here, and everything is self contained,” he said. “There’s a draw on resources and a cost to them being here.”
But Republican county legislator Edward Welsh, from Utica, sees it differently:
“Basically, I’m against gerrymandering prison populations for political use only,” he said. “I’m happy the prisoners are here and the jobs are here, but when everything is equal, prisoners should not be counted here.”
This lawsuit could significantly reshape state, county and perhaps even Federal political districts across the North Country.
So what do you think? Tens of thousands of New York inmates — who can’t vote and don’t have any kind of regular access to “their” elected officials — are clearly pawns in a big political struggle.
Should they be? Should they be tallied here or in the communities where they hail from?