- Gary LockeU.S. Commerce Secretary
Fix the Census Prisoner Miscounts
The U.S. Census is about to make a huge mistake in next year’s population count.
It is going to count prisoners as residents of the area where their prison is located instead of the town where they lived before incarceration.
The problem is that since census counts are used to determine political districting maps the areas around prisons end up getting disproportionate representation in government.
And areas where greater numbers of people in prison are from miss out on much needed support and influence.
Worse yet, elected officials in districts with large prison populations don’t care about representing the interests of the inmates in their districts. Instead, they use inflated population numbers from all the prisoners in their districts to increase their own political influence.
Nearly all inmates return to their home cities and towns upon release from prison and they should be counted as residents of their true homes, not of the district where they’ve been sent to serve time. Counting them as residents of districts where they are incarcerated is unjust and runs counter to every principle of democracy.
Tell Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who runs the Census Bureau to fix prisoner miscounting for next year’s census.
- U.S. Commerce Secretary
The U.S. Census is making a mistake. It is counting people in prison as residents of the areas where they are incarcerated, not where they actually live and where they are likely to return.
When you count prisoners as residents of the area where they are incarcerated, you end up creating political districts where the elected leaders do not serve the interests of their supposed constituents because those constituents cannot vote and are going to leave the area as soon as the are released from prison—on average 34 months from the time they start.
This, simply put, is an injustice and not appropriate for a democracy. It flies in the face of the notion of proportional representation and of “one person one vote.”
Please, fix this mistake before ten more years go by.
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