Bill would ensure the Census Bureau counts people in prison as residents of their home address
DENVER, CO — Reps. James Coleman and Kerry Tipper’s bill, the Colorado Accurate Residence for Redistricting Act, today was approved by the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs Committee. The bill would count people in prison as residents of their home addresses for purposes of state redistricting, ending the practice of counting those individuals as residents of the localities where the corrections facilities are..
“More accurate district maps and a fairer count of Coloradans means a stronger democracy,” said Rep Tipper (D-Lakewood). “This bill will make a difference not only for the 18,000 or so incarcerated individuals in Colorado, but for everyone who wants to make sure their districts have the most accurate representation possible. I’m pleased to see it move forward in committee today.”
“This bill is about fairness, plain and simple,” said Rep. Coleman (D-Denver). “We want to ensure that Colorado has accurate and fair representation in the next decade and beyond, and that means counting incarcerated individuals in their home communities.”
HB20-1010 would, for purposes of census redistricting counts, reassign prisoners in correctional facilities to their last known residence in Colorado prior to incarceration. Only in the instance that a prisoner does not have a Colorado address do they get counted in the locality where the prison is located. Prisoners are currently assigned to voting districts based on where they are incarcerated instead of where they live their lives, even though they cannot vote.
Per the Colorado Constitution—which declares that a prison cell is not a residence—people in prison are legal constituents of their home address representatives and not the correctional facility they have been placed in. Additionally, the average length of stay in Colorado prisons is three years, while redistricting guidelines last an entire decade. Other states including Maryland, New York, Washington, Delaware and California have passed legislation to address prison gerrymandering.