NAACP withdraws prison gerrymandering lawsuit

April 21, 2020 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The NAACP has withdrawn a lawsuit seeking to change the way Connecticut counts prisoners when drawing up legislative districts, saying it instead plans to urge the state to include its recommendations when creating a new map next year.

The civil rights group sued the state in federal court in June 2018, saying it is unfair and unconstitutional that inmates are included in the population counts of the towns where they’re imprisoned rather than their home districts — a practice known as prison gerrymandering.

The lawsuit said urban legislative districts, with larger minority populations, lose voting power when prisoners are removed from their populations, resulting in inflated power for predominantly white districts.

NAACP leaders decided to drop the lawsuit last week and advocate for a new legislative district map for 2021 that counts prisoners as living in their actual hometowns, said Kate Hamilton, a Yale Law School student who is helping to represent the NAACP. She said the group would determine whether to renew the lawsuit after reviewing the 2021 map.

Connecticut, like other states, redraws its congressional and legislative district boundaries after each 10-year census.