Lawsuit filed by ACLU of Florida and Florida Justice Institute challenges Jefferson County plan skewing weight of voting districts by counting inmates of a state prison, who make up over 40% of one district's voting age population

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

TALLAHASSEE, FL – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and the Florida Justice Institute will appear before a federal court in Tallahassee tomorrow for a hearing in the lawsuit challenging “prison gerrymandering” in Jefferson County, Florida. The hearing in Calvin, et al. v. Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, et al. will be held on Wednesday, January 6, at 9 a.m. before Judge Mark Walker at the U.S. Courthouse at 111 North Adams St. in Tallahassee.

The lawsuit challenges a redistricting plan adopted by the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners and the Jefferson County School Board in 2013, which counts the inmate population of a state prison within the county in apportioning the five single-member districts for county elections. The incarcerated population at Jefferson Correctional Institution (JCI) constitutes a full 37.73% of the people who make up County Commission District 3, and 43.2% of the voting age population in the district. As a result, every four actual residents of District 3 have as much political influence in county and school affairs as seven residents in any other district.

The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Justice Institute representing voters in Jefferson County outside District 3, argues that by artificially inflating the voting strength of residents of District 3, the apportionment plan violates the “one person, one vote” principle established by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs are seeking a ruling declaring the 2013 redistricting plan to be unconstitutional and requiring that a new plan be drawn and implemented for future elections in the county.

U.S. District Court Judge Walker will hear Motions for Summary Judgement that were filed by each side. The plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgement will be argued by Nancy Abudu, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida.

A copy of the March 2015 complaint filed by the ACLU of Florida and FJI is available here: