Census Bureau's handling of prison inmates becomes battlefield for partisan advantage

Published: Nov. 17, 2019 at 4:46 PM CST
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A longstanding U.S. Census Bureau policy for counting inmates as prison residents means a significant portion of Milwaukee's poorest neighborhoods will be undercounted because their incarceration rates are among the highest in the nation.

The undercount has detrimental impacts in these predominantly black areas because it diminishes their political representation back home. It has become one more battlefield in the endless skirmish for partisan redistricting.

Liberals in Wisconsin and other states are challenging the census practice, arguing it transfers power and resources from urban and largely minority neighborhoods to mostly white and Republican rural areas where prisons are located.

Republicans, meanwhile, say communities with prisons need the aid because they incur infrastructure and law enforcement costs for having the facilities. Republicans say the census policy has worked and should stand.

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