It's Time to End Prison Gerrymandering

by Tonya Bah


Tonya Bah is a community organizer, social justice advocate and member of the PNN Executive Committee


The unconstitutional counting of bodies formerly residing in impoverished areas outside Prison occupied counties is more than unlawful, it’s morally bankrupt. Residential faith and trust in nonpolitical outcomes and decisions is far more than important, it is also triggering.


Twenty years ago my late husband and I chose where we lived, when we’d become parents and what we were willing to sacrifice for our families future. We resided in Forestville, Maryland and benefited from its proximity to DC and Virginia. Years later the idea of returning and making Pennsylvania my home came without reservation as it is a beautiful state with much to offer.


That sentiment has not changed but the understanding of how representation does and does not work for vulnerable populations, has filled me and many other law abiding, tax paying citizens with dread, anxiety, despair and distrust with those empowered to make decisions for many.


The decades of gerrymandering, the indisputable information from the DOC and Census organized for an unbiased body, may finally provide the LRC with what it needs to end years of human exploitation.


This opportunity gives me hope and I’m far from alone. As a mother, public school graduate, tax payer and home owner I depend on folks in positions of power to use facts and to move with integrity and justice to remedy injustice even when it ends decades of harmful tradition.


More often than not righteousness prevails and we move forward better as a human race. This is why I’m hopeful the outcome this Commission delivers will correct and end gerrymandering of bodies in Pennsylvania.