Sam Tañafranca Osaki

  • Hosted by American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Voting Rights/Electoral Participation
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Sam is working to end the practice of prison-based malapportionment (“prison gerrymandering”) in two states through litigation, partnership-building, and legislative advocacy.  

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the worldwith 2.3 million Americansthe aggregate population of 15 statesin confinementThese individuals are forcibly removed from their home communities, stripped of their right to vote, and counted as residents of the largely white, rural areas where corrections facilities are frequently located. Mass incarceration has already devastated communities of color; on top of that, when incarcerated individuals are miscounted due to prison gerrymandering, the political process becomes less responsive to their communities’ needs. Incarcerated individuals’ home communities are thereby trapped in a cycle of injustice, contributing to under-investment in their neighborhoods.  

Sam is compelled by the intersectionality of voting rights and firmly believes that a fair count is essential for communities to effectively advocate for their needs 

Fellowship Plans

The opportunity to end prison gerrymandering before it harms communities arises only once each decade, following the release of the decennial census. Sam will challenge prison gerrymandering through litigation in two states. At the same time, Sam will also advocate for the passage of laws to end the practice directly. Throughout her fellowship, Sam will work alongside and hold herself accountable to community organizers and impacted individuals from over-policed and under-counted communities. 


Five NYU Law graduates named 2020 Equal Justice Works Fellows

Prison gerrymandering dilutes the voting power of communities of color, entrenches systemic inequality, and weakens our democracy. The time to end that practice is now.

Sam Tañafranca Osaki /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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