Does Minnesota’s Prison Population Help Michele Bachmann?

Emily Badger has an article up on Miller-McCune that explains how NY state’s prison population skews congressional districts due to the census counting prison populations as residents of the prison’s district rather than as residents of the community the prisoner was from before being incarcerated.

The counting quirk sounds like a quandary for demographers. But it also means, come gerrymandering time, that many urban black communities look smaller than they actually are, a disproportionate number of their residents having been counted in the rural areas that are home to penitentiaries.

Most states redraw political districts every 10 years using census data, and so this counting practice has the effect of increasing the political power of anyone who lives near a prison, while decreasing the power of the communities where prisoners legally reside.

Interesting quirk.

I’d be curious to find out if anyone’s looked at this for Minnesota. What I do know is that Michele Bachmann’s 6th Congressional District happens to be the current home for many of Minnesota’s prisoners.

In fact, it looks like nearly half of Minnesota’s adult prisoners reside in the Michele Bachmann’s district:

I don’t know the answers. Does anyone know what impact counting the 4000+ incarcerated members of Michele Bachmann’s congressional district has on the 6th or the districts those prisoners largely came from, such as the 5th or 4th?

3 thoughts on “Does Minnesota’s Prison Population Help Michele Bachmann?”

  1. Generally speaking, Congressional districts are too large to be affected by prison-based gerrymandering. The real impact is in other branches of government: State Senate, State House, and especially in rural county and city governments.

    0.7% (less than 1%) of Michele Bachmann’s current district is incarcerated. The combined prison population is large, but the total population is far larger: 614,935.

    Some resources:
    Minnesota organizing page about prison-based gerrymandering, with links to fact sheets, a district by district analysis of state legislative districts and press coverage:

    Check back in a week or so and we’ll be posting a podcast interview with some of the organizers of the effort to end prison-based gerrymandering in Minnesota.

  2. Pingback: Bachmann Should Make Nice with the Criminals — Secrets of the City — Minneapolis + St. Paul
  3. Ok, this discussion is 10 years old, but lets get real. The census counts population but voters are adults not children. Another way to analyze these numbers is to calculate the percent of adult voters in the district that the prison population represents. According to this website, 26 percent of the population in the district is under age 18 and therefore are NOT voters. The Sixth District ranks first in the state for people per houshold compared to the other Minnesota districts. So if you were drawing congressional districts and wanted to maximize the impact of prison population, then what better way than to place them into this district. .007 times 614935 only 301 inmates total? According to the Wikipedia site for the Saint Cloud Correction Facility, it has a prison population of about 1000? And that’s not the only prison in the district?

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