Changing prisoner count could boost some Virginia cities’ political power

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s cities could gain political power under a new state policy that changes how prisoners are counted for redistricting political boundaries.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the policy counts inmates at their last known address instead of the prison’s location.

The change could boost representation in cities such as Norfolk and Richmond. Declines are expected in the rural areas where many  prisons are located.

The state’s congressional and legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years based off of U.S. Census numbers.

Supporters of the new policy say counting inmates at their prison addresses diminishes the sway of communities where inmates are from. Opponents say the policy politically weakens rural areas as well as Republican voting strength in the state.

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