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Court fight: Where should inmates be counted?

ALBANY — The fight over whether New York’s prisoners should be considered residents where their prison cell is located or their home town just got more heated.

Civil rights groups have filed a legal motion to defend a new state law that counts prisoners as still being residents of their last home town when election districts are redrawn next year.

The law favors urban, mostly Democratic strongholds.

But if inmates in mostly upstate prisons were counted as residents of their cells, more sparsely populated upstate Republican districts could get more clout, and more state and congressional districts.

Republicans have already sued to block the law.

In one rural upstate district, prisoners account for 12,000 people.