Prison Voting district

FILE — An inmate walks toward his cell block at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

About six miles from the heart of Kuna, among the sagebrush-studded hills off Pleasant Valley Road, sits a collection of steel-and-concrete buildings, many behind chain-link fences capped with barbed wire, writes Idaho Press reporter Tommy Simmons. These six Idaho Department of Correction facilities house more than 5,600 men and women serving prison sentences.

Together, they make up over 60% percent of the state’s total prison population. And, because of the way census data is used in the drawing of legislative districts, these inmates, though they can’t cast a ballot, make up a large portion of the population in District 22 — 12%, as of the last Census. 

What that means is a smaller group of people in District 22 — the residents who are not in prison — have as much voting power as entire populations of other districts. And although it could, Idaho has no plans to address that in its next round of redistricting. You can read Simmons' full story here at (subscription required), or pick up today's edition of the Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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