Vestiges of slavery and systemic disenfranchisement of people of color persist in the United States. One of these remnants is the practice of prison gerrymandering, which occurs when government officials count incarcerated individuals as part of the population of the prison’s location rather than the individual’s home district. This Article argues that prison gerrymandering functions as a badge of slavery that should be prohibited under the Thirteenth Amendment.
First, this Article provides background on prison gerrymandering and charts its impact through history, particularly on Black communities. Moreover, this Article analyzes how litigation under the Fourteenth Amendment has not yielded meaningful results. Though the issue of prison gerrymandering has been written about extensively, most legal arguments rely on the Fourteenth Amendment, and there has been little scholarship on abolishing the practice through the Thirteenth Amendment. Acknowledging this gap, this Article argues that prison gerrymandering is a vestige of slavery rooted in the Three-Fifths Clause of the Constitution. Therefore, this Article concludes that prison gerrymandering is unconstitutional under the Thirteenth Amendment.
A Modern-Day 3/5 Compromise: The Case for Finding Prison Gerrymandering Unconstitutional Under the Thirteenth Amendment,
Fordham L. Voting Rts. & Democracy F.
Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/vrdf/vol1/iss2/6