Prisons Skew Census Data

by TChris

Small towns and rural areas with prisons look larger in the census because the inmates count as local residents. A report by the Urban institute concludes that this practice affects outcomes "in matters as diverse as political representation to state and federal funding."

Twenty-plus years of aggressive prison construction have left states with bloated budgets, but prisons provide welcome jobs in the small towns and counties that host them.

"There is a growing trend in rural areas to pursue prisons and jails as a tool for economic development," said Joe Weedon, legislative director for American Correctional Association.

Building more prisons is not a healthy solution to the economic hardships suffered in rural America. Nobody should be sent to prison so that someone else will have a job.

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