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Avoiding Prison-based Gerrymandering

Avoiding Prison-based GerrymanderingIn general, prison populations have very little effect on the most lucrative formulas that support education or anti-poverty programs because those formulas are highly tailored to the need. Prison populations are not included in how the government calculates “household income” or “poverty” and most of the education formulas are based on the number children in the census or the number of children enrolled in the schools, etc., which the prison populations also do not affect. I know that this may be surprising, particularly given the Census Bureau’s overly simplistic rhetoric about why it is important for people to fill out Census forms. They are correct, of course, that each person on average represents about $1,400 per year in grants. But the overwhelming majority of this is block grants to the state of Illinois and not to individual municipalities. Prison populations play only a very minor part in the remainder, and none of those calculations are changed by how a county or municipality chooses to draw its legislative lines.
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