Gary Mayor Proposes Counting Inmates in Census

More counted residents means more money, says mayor

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    404277 01: Volunteer inmates wear orange prison uniforms during an overnight stay at the new Cass County Law Enforcement Center April 19, 2002 in Plattsmouth, NE. Civilians were to invited stay in the prison in order to work out potential bugs and test procedures. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)

    Cash-strapped Gary, Indiana is hoping to get some money from its criminals. Um, legally.

    Mayor Rudy Clay wants Gary residents who are incarcerated in jails outside of the city to still be counted as Gary inhabitants in the 2010 census, reports the Northwest Indiana Times.

    Clay proposes that the prison inmates be counted according to their address prior to incarceration -- that's nearly 700 people.

    For census purposes, Indiana's prisoners are currently considered residents of the jails they are in, which may be located outside the inmates' hometowns.

    For example, inmates in Westville Indiana's correctional facility made up almost 60 percent of the town's total population in the 2000 census, said a spokesperson.

    That's one rough lemonade stand.

    Clay and other municipal leaders argue that, under this method, prison towns are given an unfair advantage and get more funding.

    "We've always been undercounted, and because we've always been undercounted, we've lost money," Clay said, according to nwitimes.com.

    But there is a small hiccup. Counting prisoners by home address would cost more, says Jim Accurso, media specialist for the U.S. Census Bureau. Not to mention, some inmates don't have previous addresses, he said.

    Indiana isn't alone in this request. Four states, including Illinois, are considering counting inmates by their previous home addresses.

    So Gary and Chicago both might just get to welcome several hundred people back into the general (census) population. Who wants to be on that welcome committee? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

    Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.