Prisoners of redistricting: One version of House map includes federal inmates, one doesn't

03/04/2013 09:02 AM

The capital of this year’s redistricting map controversy is unquestionably Elliott County.

That’s not only because a powerful House Democrat hails from that county but also because legislators are having to get creative with the math when it comes to the federal prisoners who are housed in Elliott County.

The House continues to debate two versions of potential redistricting maps, which House leaders said they hoped to unveil Monday.

Option one would put Elliott County — population 7,852 — in a new district along with Rowan and Lewis, said House Speaker Greg Stumbo last month . That would leave Rep. Rocky Adkins, the Democratic House floor leader and Elliott County native, competing in a district against Republican Rep. Jill York of Grayson that would include York’s home county of Carter and part of Boyd County where Adkins lives now and likely another county, potentially Lawrence.

Option two would put Elliott County in a district with Carter County and Adkins’ area of Boyd County that would again pit Adkins against York but would be friendlier to Adkins.

And depending on which map is accepted, the House might have to get creative with counting the federal prisoners at the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Elliott County.

Stumbo confirmed to Pure Politics on Friday that leaders counted the federal prisoners in one of the versions, “and in the other, we didn’t.”

He said federal prisoners aren’t required to be counted. When asked why one of the versions of the map does count them, Stumbo said, “maybe to see if there’s a better plan out there.”

Counting federal inmates has been a sticky wicket for other state legislatures as they tried to rewrite their maps in the wake of the 2010 U.S. Census. In New York, for instance, New York argued over whether to count state prisoners in at their home addresses or as constituents of the district in which the prison is located. As they negotiated the issue to avoid further court proceedings, they agreed not to count federal prisoners or out-of-state prisoners.


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