* Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) wants future Census-takers to count prison inmates as residents of their home towns, not where they are currently residing, as has been common practice in Illinois…
For example, in 2010, when U.S. Census workers tallied the population of Randolph County in southwestern Illinois, they included in their total the 3,552 inmates locked up in Menard Correctional Center, the state’s largest maximum-security prison.
Though the men serving time there can’t vote, they account for more than 10 percent of the county’s population.
The higher head count makes counties such as Randolph eligible for a bigger share of the pie when state and federal money is distributed. The population count affects everything from funding for the sewer system that carries waste from Menard and the nearby town of Chester, to financing for the county courthouse, which handles disciplinary cases stemming from prison yard fights.
State Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mount Vernon, whose district encompasses Big Muddy and Centralia correctional centers and nearly 3,500 prisoners, is among lawmakers who say the local benefit is only fair because those counties are the ones dealing with the inmate issues. […]
On current legislative maps, prisoners who serve even a two-year prison sentence are recorded as residents of the correctional center for the next 10 years.
Rep. Ford’s bill is here.
* The Question: Should the Census count prisoners who are serving less than 10-year sentences in their home towns or in their prisons? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments…