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Political Power and Passive Citizenship: The Implications of Considering African Americans as Residents of Rural New York State Districts
Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, Volume: 34, Issue: 2, Pages: 7 - 33
Swansea University Author: Themis Chronopoulos
Between the early 1970s and the late 1990s, the number of prisoners in the State of New York soared. The majority of these prisoners were African Americans who used to live in New York City, but served their sentences in upstate rural prisons. This transfer of urban African Americans to rural prison...
|Published in:||Afro-Americans in New York Life and History|
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Between the early 1970s and the late 1990s, the number of prisoners in the State of New York soared. The majority of these prisoners were African Americans who used to live in New York City, but served their sentences in upstate rural prisons. This transfer of urban African Americans to rural prisons has had profound political implications. Although state law dictates that these prisoners have no political rights, their numbers have been crucial for the existence of upstate senate districts dominated by conservative legislators who have generally been hostile to African Americans and their interests. The counting of disenfranchised African Americans as residents for political apportionment has a long history in the United States and the practice is akin to a condition that I term passive citizenship. African Americans constitute the group with the longest and most extreme degree of passive citizenship in the United States. This has been the case with the South, which for more than a century derived immense political power from the numbers of African Americans living in its territory while excluding them from the polls. This has also been the case in the State of New York since the 1970s where upstate rural districts have benefitted from the longer sentencing of downstate urban people, since prisons have provided jobs to upstate areas but also political power.
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences