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Racial Justice (Research)

Captive Constituents: Prison-Based Gerrymandering and the Distortion of Our Democracy

Captive Constituents

Most state and local governments count incarcerated persons as residents of the prison communities where they are incarcerated when drawing election district lines, despite the fact that prisoners are not integrated into those communities and are not residents there. This practice, known as “prison-based gerrymandering,” artificially inflates the population count—and thus, the political influence—of the districts where prisons and jails are located. At the same time, this practice reduces the political power of everyone else. The viability of our communities, integrity of our democracy and basic principles of equality suffer as a result. The United States Constitution requires that election districts must be roughly equal in size, so that everyone is represented equally in the political process. Elected officials (with the exception of United States Senators) must represent roughly the same number of people, and each constituent is entitled to the same level of access to an elected official. This is known as the "One person, one vote" principle. 

Voting Law Changes in 2012

Voting Law Changes in 2012
Legislators introduced and passed a record number of bills restricting access to voting this year. New laws ranged from those requiring government-issued photo identification or documentary proof of citizenship to vote, to those reducing access to early and absentee voting, to those making it more difficult to register to vote. In total, at least nineteen laws and two executive actions making it more difficult to vote passed across the country, at least forty-two bills are still pending, and at least sixty-eight more were introduced but failed. As detailed in this report, the extent to which states have made voting more difficult is unprecedented in the last several decades, and comes after a dramatic shift in political power following the 2010 election. The battles over these laws were—and, in states where they are not yet over, continue to be—extremely partisan and among the most contentious in this year’s legislative session. Proponents of the laws have offered several reasons for their passage: to prevent fraud, to ease administrative burden, to save money. Opponents have focused on the fact that the new laws will make it much more difficult for eligible citizens to vote and to ensure that their votes are counted. In particular, they have pointed out that many of these laws will disproportionately impact low-income and minority citizens, renters, and students—eligible voters who already face the biggest hurdles to voting.

Avoiding Prison-based Gerrymandering

Avoiding Prison-based GerrymanderingIn general, prison populations have very little effect on the most lucrative formulas that support education or anti-poverty programs because those formulas are highly tailored to the need. Prison populations are not included in how the government calculates “household income” or “poverty” and most of the education formulas are based on the number children in the census or the number of children enrolled in the schools, etc., which the prison populations also do not affect. I know that this may be surprising, particularly given the Census Bureau’s overly simplistic rhetoric about why it is important for people to fill out Census forms. They are correct, of course, that each person on average represents about $1,400 per year in grants. But the overwhelming majority of this is block grants to the state of Illinois and not to individual municipalities. Prison populations play only a very minor part in the remainder, and none of those calculations are changed by how a county or municipality chooses to draw its legislative lines.

The New Great Migration: Black Americans’ Return to the South, 1965–2000

The New Great Migration: Black Americans’ Return to the South, 1965–2000

An analysis of migration data from the past four decennial censuses at regional, state, and metropolitan-area levels indicates that: The South scored net gains of black migrants from all three of the other regions of the U.S. during the late 1990s, reversing a 35-year trend. Of the 10 states that suffered the greatest net loss of blacks between 1965 and 1970, five ranked among the top 10 states for attracting blacks between 1995 and 2000. Southern metropolitan areas, particularly Atlanta, led the way in attracting black migrants in the late 1990s. In contrast, the major metropolitan areas of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco experienced the greatest out-migration of blacks during the same period. Among migrants from the Northeast, Midwest, and West regions, blacks were more likely than whites to select destinations in the South. Atlanta and Washington, D.C. were the top destinations for black migrants from all three regions; white migrants moved to a broader set of areas including Miami, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. College-educated individuals lead the new migration into the South. The "brain gain" states of Georgia, Texas, and Maryland attracted the most black college graduates from 1995 to 2000, while New York suffered the largest net loss. After several decades as a major black migrant "magnet," California lost more black migrants than it gained during the late 1990s. Southern states, along with western "spillover" states like Arizona and Nevada, received the largest numbers of black out-migrants from California.

Melting Pot Cities and Suburbs: Racial and Ethnic Change in Metro America in the 2000s

Melting Pot Cities and Suburbs: Racial and Ethnic Change in Metro America in the 2000s

Old images of race and place in America are changing rapidly. Nowhere are these shifts more apparent than in major U.S. cities and their suburbs. An analysis of data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 decennial censuses reveals that: Hispanics now outnumber blacks and represent the largest minority group in major American cities. The Hispanic share of population rose in primary cities of the largest 100 metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2010.  Across all cities in 2010, 41 percent of residents were white, 26 percent were Hispanic, and 22 percent were black. Well over half of America’s cities are now majority non-white. Primary cities in 58 metropolitan areas were “majority minority” in 2010, up from 43 in 2000. Cities lost only about half as many whites in the 2000s as in the 1990s, but “black flight” from cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Detroit accelerated in the 2000s. Minorities represent 35 percent of suburban residents, similar to their share of overall U.S. population. Among the 100 largest metro areas, 36 feature “melting pot” suburbs where at least 35 percent of residents are non-white. The suburbs of Houston, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. became majority minority in the 2000s. More than half of all minority groups in large metro areas, including blacks, now reside in the suburbs. The share of blacks in large metro areas living in suburbs rose from 37 percent in 1990, to 44 percent in 2000, to 51 percent in 2010. Higher shares of whites (78 percent), Asians (62 percent), and Hispanics (59 percent) in large metro areas live in suburbs.

The Foreclosure Generation: The Long-Term Impact of the Housing Crisis on Latino Children and Families

La RazaThe National Council of La Raza (NCLR) partnered with the Center for Community Capital (CCC) at the University of North Carolina to conduct 25 interviews with Latino families who had recently experienced a foreclosure. Interviewers asked in-depth questions on a variety of issues related to the overall well-being of the family with a special emphasis on the status of their children. Interviews were conducted in July and August 2009 in five regions: southeastern Texas, southeastern Michigan, the west coast of Florida, northwestern Georgia, and the Central Valley of California.

Mapping Susceptibility to Gentrification: The Early Warning Toolkit

The Bay Area is one of the most expensive and challenging housing markets in the country.[1] On average, local households spend 48% of their income on housing, compared to 29% for the country as a whole, and just 12% can afford the median priced home.[2] A quarter of Bay Area renters meet HUD’s definition of severely housing burdened, dedicating more than 50 percent of their income to housing.[3] Anticipated growth will place even more pressure on the region’s housing market. The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) projects an additional 1.9 million people and 1.6 million jobs by 2035.[4] Meanwhile, new funding for transit approved by Bay Area voters will add 100 new stations, many in already built-up areas, to the region’s existing 300 rapid transit stations and transit corridors.[5] Although the planned new transit facilities will help to accommodate much of the population growth, they also present a challenge. Researchers generally agree that new transit investment will bring higher property values to the surrounding area (except in the immediate vicinity of the transit station).[6] This could spur a process of gentrification, which will be beneficial to some – but not to those who cannot bear rent increases and are forced to leave the neighborhood. This report was prepared for ABAG as part of its Development without Displacement project funded by an environmental justice grant from CalTrans.

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