End of "Prison Gerrymandering" Saps Rural Virginia

The national Census counts incarcerated persons at the correctional facilities where they are held. But a new Virginia law requires the Redistricting Commission to assign inmates to their last known residential address, a move that will transfer political clout from rural to urban areas.

Source: Information about inmates held in federal, state and local institutions as of June 2020 compiled by the the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Board of Corrections and released by the Division of Legislative Services. DLS redacted the street address of the last known residence of inmates. This made it impossible to determine how much population each legislative district will gain or lose in the redistricting process. The map relies upon the ZIP Code of inmates' last known residence.

Methodology: VPAP classified the population density of each inmate's current location based on the locality in which the correctional facility is located and the population density of their last known residence based on ZIP Code:

  • Urban – population density of at least 1,300 people per square mile.
  • Suburban/Small cities – population density between 1,300 people per square mile and 125 people per square mile. Small cities are cities with fewer than 90,000 people.
  • Rural – population density of fewer than 125 people per square mile
April 14, 2021