Silver, McEneny call on task force to follow prison law for redistricting (Updated)

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Update (5:27 p.m.): Includes response from Nozzolio.

With a panel charged with developing a redistricting plan in time for the 2012 election set to host a hearing in Albany tomorrow, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Democratic co-chair of the task force called on other members of the group to comply with a law passed last year related to whether prisoners should be counted in their hometown or the jail they reside in.

Silver and Albany-area Assemblyman John McEneny, the co-chair, said observing the law is “not only the prudent thing to do, it is also the right thing to do.”

Senate Republicans, including LATFOR co-chair Michael Nozzolio of Fayette, Seneca County, have balked at counting prisoners in their hometowns and have filed a lawsuit in an attempt to have the new law declared unconstitutional.

The law was passed last year, when Democrats controlled both houses of the Legislature. Republicans took a slim 32-20 majority in the Senate in the 2010 election.

Both sides of the debate declare the other of gerrymandering. A significant amount of Republicans generally have districts that lie upstate, where most of the prisons lie. Most Democrats come from downstate, where some in upstate prisons call home.

LATFOR, the redistricting task force, has been hosting public hearings across the state. It will be in the Legislative Office Building tomorrow morning.

McEneny and Silver’s joint statement is below:

“Last year, the Legislature passed a law requiring that prison inmates be counted in their home communities rather than their incarceration address for the purpose of redistricting. The Assembly Majority believes that complying with the law as written is not only the prudent thing to do, it is also the right thing to do. In order to comply with the law, Assembly staff have been working with the original inmate records provided by Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to ensure inmates are counted properly. Our work is nearly complete and the results will be made public in the near future.

We urge our task force members to join with us, ensuring compliance with both the letter and intent of the law. This is the responsible action for the Legislature to take. Regardless of any personal political stance on the prison count issue, we encourage all task force members to join us in our effort to fully comply with the law as it is written.”

Nozzolio issued this response:

“Every member of the Senate Majority is strongly committed to complying with every State and Federal law relative to the redistricting process. The Senate Majority believes that every person should be counted, and that the State Constitution should be followed to the letter. We are encouraged that Assembly staff is working with the original inmate records provided by the
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and we look forward to their full report.”

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