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

03/04/2013 10:02 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.

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He has covered politics for more than 10 years, including 7 years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Follow Ryan on Twitter @cn2Alessi. Ryan can be reached at 502-792-1135 or


  • sam pierce wrote on March 04, 2013 12:47 PM :

    Unless there has been some change in the law, I believe that prisoners are supposed to count in the county where they are housed. They were all counted in congressional redistricting for Kentucky. It would be inconsistent not to count them for house redistricting. And what about them being counted for state senate redistricting? Looks like another lawsuit if they are not all counted the way they were in congressional redistricting. Stumbo and Adkins want to do whatever helps them whether it is legal or not. Perhaps both need to make their home in the prison in Elliott County.
    When I was in Alabama I did a lot of redistricting work for the Republican Party. My Sam Pierce Zero plan was approved by a three-judge federal panel in the Wesch v. Hunt case in January, 1992, and became the Congressional Plan in effect for Alabama for a decade. I also was an expert witness in some redistricting cases there after the 2000 census. Unless the law has changed, prisoners have to be consistently counted in the state house, state senate, and Congressional plans for a state. Therefore, Elliott County’s prison population should be counted totally for whatever district in which it is included.

  • viewer wrote on March 04, 2013 01:06 PM :

    Keep on Rocky Adkins and Stumbo, hopefully soon you guys will be counted in that prison count as an inmate. This is like watching a train wreck play out right in front of us. How is Rocky going to keep his seat ??? Doesn’t he think a lot of himself. We had to pay thousands last year to lawyers after they were caught trying to gerrymander their seats. These are the same people who have not funded the ARC over the past 10 years. These are the same people whose home districts are shrinking due to people leaving in order to find work because the policies they are putting into place in Frankfort are not working. But, it was brilliant for him to bring the prison to West Liberty because you know if they are going to count the inmates there will not be a vacant bed in the place. When you think you have seen the lowest that Kentucky politicians can get; they stoop even lower. Whatever you do, Rocky and Greg, don’t legalize marijuana because Rocky will lose a few constituents in West Liberty; we wouldn’t want that. Get your popcorn friends. This is going to be a good show.

    Anyone who Rocky has given a state job to in the past, I understand your loyalties to him. But, you have $32 billion worth of reasons to vote this sucker out no matter which district he end up in. He paid his special interest friends contracts with the money he was supposed to put into your pensions. Wake up Kentucky.

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