In New York, two state lawmakers (with Rev. Al Sharpton) are criticizing the Census Bureau policy of counting inmates in the district where they are incarcerated, rather than their home communities.
From the Albany Times-Union:
The longtime U.S. Census Bureau guideline was denounced as “prison-based gerrymandering” by Sen. Eric Schneiderman, D-Manhattan, and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, D-Brooklyn, who were joined by Sharpton and more than two dozen advocacy groups at a news conference at New York City Hall.
“This is an injustice all across America,” Schneiderman said. “We pass hundreds and hundreds of bills every year about highways and forestry and insurance and sewers. This bill is different. This bill is about justice.”
The Times-Union also delves into the pros and cons of the current policy, which a regional manager tells the paper is unlikely to change this year:
Alice Green, executive director for the Center of Law and Justice in Albany, has opposed the Census policy for more than two decades. “Prisoners are not allowed to vote, but yet we count them and then exploit them,” she said.
Because of the location of most state prisons, Census Bureau policy tends to benefit the upstate population count.
New York’s rural 45th Senate District, which includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties, houses over 13,500 inmates incarcerated in 13 prisons.
Queensbury Republican Sen. Elizabeth Little, who has represented the district since 2002, supports the current Census Bureau guidelines.
“How do we know these people are going to go back to their hometowns once — or if — they are released?,” Little said. “Are they serving life sentences? Do they still have family in their hometowns?”