Nevada, Washington Join States Counting Prisoners in Home Communities

By: - May 31, 2019 12:00 am

Ely State Prison in Nevada, a state that will join five others in counting prisoners where they used to live, restoring more political power to urban areas. John Locher/The Associated Press

Nevada and Washington have joined the list of states opting to count state prisoners at their former homes rather than where they are imprisoned.

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a Nevada bill May 29 and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a similar bill earlier in May. Both are Democrats.

Those states now join four others — California, Delaware, Maryland and New York — that have voted to make the change, which largely would shift political power away from conservative rural areas to more liberal cities during legislative redistricting.

Some prison-hosting communities oppose the idea, arguing that they deserve more representation for housing prisoners. Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie said the change “smacks of political opportunism.”

Bills are still pending in Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.