December 9, 2016
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Minority Inmates Mean $$$ In Census Tallies

 WASHINGTON --The U.S. Census scramble is in full swing, complete with gerrymandering, political turf wars, and competition for federal resources that come with it. According to a recent article from the Associated Press, illegal immigrants facing deportation in detention centers across the country are being counted in the U.S. Census and bringing a financial boon to the communities where the detention centers are located. This, despite the fact that by the time the Census delivers the total tallies to the state and federal government, many will have been deported.

The same issue of how U.S. prisoners are counted, but with a focus on African-American inmates, is the subject of a recent report from the Political Participation Group of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., entitled "Captive Constituents: Prison-Based Gerrymandering and the Distortion of Our Democracy." Sharon Taylor, president of the National Alliance of Community Leaders (NACL), a nonprofit membership organization whose mission is to be a forum for community action related to accessing democracy, fairness, and equity, says the report clearly lays out how financial and political gain accrue to prison communities, using black inmates who are disproportionately represented in America's prisons, and Hispanic immigrants who are disproportionately represented in detention facilities, as collateral.

"The Political Participation Report is an amazing illumination of the issues and it's hard to understand why every governor in the country is not screaming foul. On federal funding alone, they are risking dollars that would come back to the most vulnerable communities in their states—largely African American and Hispanic." Taylor said the bottom line is that prison communities gain financially and politically, inflating their populations with black and brown inmates. The communities where the inmates lived prior to incarceration gain nothing. In fact, they lose. "At least if inmates' home communities reaped the financial and political gain from inmate incarceration it would be a form of restitution for the harm their crimes caused the community and would benefit family members still living in those communities," said Taylor.

"Today, most prisoners are from cities and urban communities, but prisons are largely being built (according to the NAACP report) in '…non-metropolitan communities where only 20 percent of the national population is.' The cities and urban communities where black and brown inmates are from lose millions of dollars along with the political clout their numbers could deliver," Taylor stated.

An active member of the community, Sharon Taylor is a community advocate, known for her interest in politics and the history of the African-American in American history and for her commitment to social justice, political equality, and economic parity.

 



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