Thursday, April 28, 2011

Houston loses state rep over prisoner census count

If prisoners were counted in their home counties instead of the counties where they're incarcerated, Houston would have 25 instead of 24 state represenatives, it was revealed during yesterday's House redistricting debate. Reported the Houston Chronicle:
More than 60,000 Houstonians are living in state prisons and were not counted as part of Houston's population, Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, complained to House Redistricting Chair Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton.

Had they been counted, Houston would definitely get 25 state representatives - instead of the 24 as proposed under the current redistricting map.
The problem is, they're not getting representation in those other counties, either. A report (pdf) from the House Research Organization last fall revealed that:
Some Texas counties exclude inmates when establishing county commissioner precincts. Anderson, Bee, Brazos, Coryell, Childress, Concho, Dawson, Grimes, Karnes, Madison, Mitchell, Pecos, Walker, and Wood counties all have excluded inmate populations when establishing county commissioner, justice of the peace, and constable precincts, according to studies in March and June by Prisoners of the Census. In Anderson and Concho counties, excluding inmate populations prevented the creation of precincts that would have consisted entirely of inmates.
IMO counties shouldn't get to have it both ways. Counties that exclude inmates from their  commissioner precincts should not benefit from those same inmates for representation at the statehouse. Either they're your constituents or they're not.


Anonymous said...

This is about the biggest bunch of B.S. that takes place in Texas politics. It sucks that red-neck law-and-order proponents in Podunctville, Texas, are getting credit--in the form of the creation of political districts--for the very people whose needs they ordinarily neglect. Just what if they actually had to please their constituents, the prisoners? It is a mockery a democratic society and I don't see how it could even be upheld if challenged in the courts.

Anonymous said...

If prisoners cannot vote, why should they have representation?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:40, the Constitution bases represenation the total census, not the voting-eligible population. The issue isn't whether they should have representation, which the Constitution mandates, but which county they're counted in.

All I'm saying is rural counties shouldn't get to have it both ways: If they exclude inmates from representation for purposes of commissioners elections, they shouldn't get to claim they represent those people for purposes of legislative redistricting.