From the Daily News:
The last time the census was done – in 2000 – Brooklynite Ramon Velasquez was locked up in Attica state prison for robbery.
According to the Census Bureau, Velasquez lived not in hardscrabble Bushwick, but in rural Attica Village, 264 miles away.
“Knowing that they counted me in Attica was a shock to me,” said Velasquez, 50, a volunteer with the New York City AIDS Housing Network.
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“It’s not fair because we don’t use their services. We’re being counted just for a political purpose. You don’t have many people up there in those counties.”
Velasquez is the face of a long-running battle between the Census Bureau, which counts prisoners in the areas they are incarcerated, and big-city politicians who want them counted where they really live. It’s not about money: Subtracting the 29,000 New York City inmates wouldn’t cut deeply into the city’s federal funding.
It’s about political clout: Census figures are used to draw the state’s legislative districts. Urban areas get hurt when inmates are counted as living upstate.
“It’s just fundamentally unfair,” state Sen. Eric Schneiderman (D-Manhattan, Bronx) said of the practice, called prison-based gerrymandering, which, he says, gives rural, upstate areas with prisons outsize political influence.
“The poor communities the prisoners come from … are punished every 10 years,” said Schneiderman, who has introduced a bill with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) to change things on a state level.