SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Federal prison populations will not count towards a congressional district’s population, California’s redistricting commission decided Friday.
The 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission, the current iteration of a group that meets every decade to decide the state’s congressional district boundaries, said they made the decision intending to prevent unfair or “padded” representation within districts housing a federal prison.
Instead, prisoners will be re-allocated to their respective districts using their last-known address — a first for state prisons in California, the commission said in a release. Those incarcerated in federal prisons will be excluded from the count.
Every 10 years, the federal government releases new census information. Californians voted in 2008 to create a commission that redraws Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization district lines using that data.
The commission’s chair, Linda Akutagawa, said organizing and distributing that information leaves a lot of work to do in little time.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” said Akutagawa. “The commission was well-intentioned in pursuing the reallocation of those in federal and state custody to their last known address, but time is not on our side.”
There are 14,494 federal prisoners held in California facilities.
Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a nationwide legal battle over redistricting following the U.S. Census Bureau’s release of its detailed population data on Aug. 13. Both parties preemptively filed lawsuits ahead of the release, as court decisions could play out in all 50 states.