The Problem of Counting Detainees

Posted on Jun 6, 2010 in National Issues

As the 2010 census finishes up its work for this decade, the issue of tallying illegal immigrants and prisoners for the census and the location that receives benefits for those people has been brought forward as a prominent issue. For the first time, lawmakers have allowed states to count prisoners in the areas in which they were previously living before being detained. While this certainly would be beneficial to areas with high incarceration rates, it has raised great concern from cities and regions in which prisons are located.

According to a Brookings institute report, in the fiscal year 2008, the per person payout from the census was $1,469. This means that small towns and cities that play host to these detention centers run the risk of losing millions of dollars should those detainees be counted elsewhere. This would have an adverse affect on the tax money previously available to those communities.

In a pure twist of irony, illegal immigrants held in detention centers before deportation were also counted for the census despite leaving the country in the very near future.

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