End Prison Gerrymandering in New Mexico!

The NM State Legislature

The Supreme Court requires state- and local governments to update their electoral districts once per decade to ensure that each district contains the same population, which gives each resident equal representation in government. However, the U.S. Census Bureau counts people where they are incarcerated, not where they are from, so when jurisdictions rely on raw Census data which does not reflect their real populations, democracy suffers.

New Mexico law says a prison cell is not a residence: “[A] person does not gain or lose residence solely by reason of his presence or absence . . . while confined in a public prison.” - New Mexico Statutes §1-1-7(D).

Frequently, prisons and correctional facilities are located in rural areas but the majority of the prison population ordinarily resides in more urban and suburban areas of the state. By including incarcerated persons in these more rural districts, power is inherently shifted away from more populous areas toward the rural counties and districts.

Common Cause New Mexico and the ACLU of New Mexico are working to ensure that every New Mexican has fair and equal representation in government. Join us in urging lawmakers and the new Citizen Redistricting Committee and the NM State Legislature to prevent prison gerrymandering before district maps that will be effective for the next 10 years are drawn.

Visit the Prison Gerrymandering Project at https://www.prisonersofthecensus.org for more information and resources.

To: The NM State Legislature
From: [Your Name]

Prison gerrymandering distorts democracy by counting incarcerated people as if they were residents of the prison district, rather than their home communities. Please take action to end this practice in New Mexico to ensure that all people are counted fairly and districts are representative of our state and its population.

New Mexicans, including myself, stand in support of adjusting Census data to account for prison populations prior to redistricting in order to create more equitable and accurate districts.

We urge you to minimize the impact of prison gerrymandering on state government by using correctional population data from the Census to avoid concentrating prison populations within a single district.

Local governments—towns, cities, counties, and school districts—should exclude correctional facilities when local district lines are drawn. This approach will ensure that districts have equal numbers of actual residents and, therefore, that residents have truly equal representation. 

Thank you in advance for helping to ensure a reflective and representative democracy for New Mexico!