End Prison Gerrymandering
Good morning/afternoon: My name is Kim (Kariymah) McClary and I’m here as a representative in my husband’s in favor of ending prison gerrymandering. My husband is in his 26th year of serving a LIFE sentence (or what we refer to as a “death by incarceration” sentence). Now many of you may think that LIFE means serving 20 years, maybe 30 years. And many may say, “at least he wasn’t given the death penalty” and I beg to differ on that. Because here in Pennsylvania, LIFE means being in prison for the rest of your natural life, and he has been sentenced to and is expected to “die” in prison. He is serving his time at SCI Dallas, in Luzerne County nearly 3 hours away from his residence in Philadelphia. Prison Gerrymandering is the practice of state & local governments counting incarcerated people as residents of areas where they are imprisoned instead of their homes when district lines are drawn. According to Fair Districts PA, this practice is also in direct violation of the PA election code which states that no incarcerated individual shall be deemed a resident of the election district where they are being held (Pennsylvania law [Title 25, § 1302 (a) (3)]). This practice distorts our democratic process by artificially inflating the population count and the political influence of the districts where prisons and jails are located, all the while decreasing political power to address political and social problems within our communities. People living in districts with prisons see inflation in voting and representative power as their district’s numbers are elevated by incarcerated people who in Pennsylvania are not allowed to vote. It goes back to that old cliché of “taxation without representation” because my husband’s family is being taxed in the community that he came from, but he has no representation in the community that he is being counted in.