The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an extra toll on prison populations. Prisoners in Wisconsin were infected at a rate five times higher than the general population, and inmates were not given priority during vaccination rollout.
This is just one of the injustices of the United States’ mass incarceration program. Another is that prisoners can’t vote—yet they are counted as residents of the district in which they are imprisoned, leading to inflated population counts during redistricting in a process known as prison gerrymandering.
To get a deeper understanding of both issues, today we speak with Wanda Bertram and Aleks Kajstura from the Prison Policy Initiative.
Wanda Bertram is the communications strategist at the Prison Policy Initiative. Before joining the Prison Policy Initiative, she reported on local criminal justice reform as a Seattle-based freelance writer while producing, managing, and strengthening the communications of area nonprofit organizations.
Aleks Kajstura is the legal director of the Prison Policy Initiative. She has played a central role in building the Prison Policy Initiative’s campaign against prison gerrymandering, including her publication, “Prison Gerrymandering in Massachusetts: How the Census Bureau prison miscount invites phantom constituents to town meeting.”