According to U.S. Census data, Morgan County has 14,000 people and 600 of them are African-American. But that’s a bit misleading because 581 of them are incarcerated, among the 1,800 prisoners housed in the county.
Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, and Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, think those 1,800 prisoners, including the 581 African-Americans, should be counted for purposes of drawing legislative districts in the county where they lived before they were jailed.
“I think it’s clear they are not really part of the community,” Ho told the Interim Joint Committee on State Government which Owens co-chairs.
Ho pointed as well to Clay County which as a population of 24,000 split among six magistrates’ districts of 4,000 people. But two of those districts, Ho said, include about 40 percent of the population behind bars. He said the same problem exists in counties like Lyon, Oldham, Elliott and McCreary where there are prison facilities.
It’s “an undemocratic structure,” Ho said, because constituents in those two Clay County districts have more political clout because fewer constituents are represented by each magistrate.