This is an excerpt from Sen. Chip Shields’ Newsletter.
The U.S. Census Bureau does not count prison inmates at their home addresses, but rather in the districts where they are incarcerated. That method results in super- representation if you happen to live near a prison. It results in diluted representation if you happen to live in an area that has a high crime rate with many of its residents incarcerated around the state.
I believe that inmates should be counted as residents of the communities they call home, not as constituents of far away towns where they do not intend to live. That is why I introduced Senate Bill 1028, which would end prison-based gerrymandering and close this counting loophole. It will make sure that Oregon Legislative districts stay true to the principle of one person, one vote.
The bill had a hearing February 2. The Oregon Department of Corrections provided a fiscal impact statement that said it would cost over $200,000 to implement the bill. We are exploring compromise solutions that would bring down the cost.
For more information, check out Prisoners of the Census webpage!
I agree with Chip on this issue. Counties where Oregon prisons are located did not bare the cost of prosecuting Oregon prisoners. When they are released, they return to their home counties who again beat the cost of their supervision and services. It is only fair that their home counties reap the financial and representation benefits derived from counting them in the census.