CHICAGO – As the COVID-19 outbreak begins to impact state prisons, state Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, released the following statement highlighting the problem of counting people at a prison location instead of their home community:

“According to the Prison Policy Initiative, after the 2000 census Illinois counted 26,304 mostly Black and Latino residents of Chicago as residents of downstate prison towns. Most of the state’s prisoners are Chicago residents, but the vast majority of them are counted as residents of downstate prisons for political purposes.

“This misrepresents Illinois’ demographic makeup and skews its system of legislative representation and resources, leaving communities in a vulnerable and ill-equipped position as we work to handle a pandemic. These areas were focused on ensuring that people in prisons are counted for political purposes, but did not want them included in their general population demographic information.

“We must make sure that as we respond to this pandemic, we ensure that all residents in a community, including those in prison, are accurately counted and receive the care and resources they may need. I’m concerned that there are communities that may now face issues responding to this pandemic because they chose to not accurately reflect their true population, and this will backfire on them.”

Residents with concerns about COVID-19 may call the Illinois Department of Public Health’s hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email DPH.SICK@ILLINOIS.GOV.

Rep. La Shawn FordRep. La Shawn Ford

8th District

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