A major victory was won in the name of democracy today as the Legislature – finally – adopted the revenue portion of the state budget. Through that bill, New York State has put an end to the undemocratic, antiquated, and racist practice of prison-based gerrymandering.

When Governor Paterson signs the bill, New York will join Maryland and Delaware as the only states to reallocate people in prison back to their home communities for the purpose of drawing legislative district lines.

For too long prison-based gerrymandering not only left incarcerated people in New York State to be used as a means to hog undue partisan power, but also left too many New York communities with a diluted share of representation in their government – a direct violation of the democratic principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ Today, democracy was restored to New York.

Through sponsoring this legislation, Senator Eric Schneiderman and Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries have proven themselves as true progressive champions who have an unfettered commitment to the best interests of all New Yorkers. And, we look forward to working to ensure that Eric Schneiderman is New York’s next Attorney General.

Each and every email sent, phone call dialed, legislative visit made, and donation you gave made an impact on today’s remarkable success. Along with representatives and members from the broad coalition of over 70 statewide organizations that made up the Coalition to End Prison-Based Gerrymandering in New York, your support and presence is what kept this legislation on the minds of each and every legislator in New York State.

When New York State draws new district lines in 2012, you will know that those lines will be drawn more accurately than ever before – that all communities in New York will get the representation they deserve.

When those who say that the voices of Every Street have no power, and that the likes of Wall Street have completely corrupted our political way of life, tell them about this victory. Tell them about this victory and the rally of New Yorkers behind it who organized themselves into an effective voice and ensured ‘one person, one vote’ be restored in New York.

Our government belongs to each of us equally. Now, in delegating legislative representation, we’ve ensured that each and every vote will have its equal force.

Thanks for all you continue to do,

Karen Scharff
Executive Director
Citizen Action of New York