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Ignoring overwhelming consensus to count incarcerated people at home, the U.S. Census Bureau released its proposal to count incarcerated persons at the wrong location once again for the 2020 Census. Stakeholders interested in a fair and accurate Census count in 2020 should make sure to submit comments to the Bureau by September 1 to explain why it must revise this proposal and count incarcerated persons at home in the 2020 Census.
Comments can be emailed by September 1 to Karen Humes, Chief, Population Division at POP.2020.Residence.Rule@census.gov
Note: The original deadline was August 1. It was extended.
Looking at the 2000 Census, the founders of the Prison Policy Initiative discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to seriously distort how political decisions are made in this country. In a series of reports, we put numbers on the problem of prison-based gerrymandering, suggested solutions, and sparked a national movement.
Since then, we’ve made tremendous progress towards ending prison gerrymandering:
“There are many ways to hijack political power. One of them is to draw state or city legislative districts around large prisons — and pretend that the inmates are legitimate constituents.”—Brent Staples
The clearest example of prison gerrymandering comes from the City of Anamosa, Iowa where a large prison was almost an entire city council district. Council districts are supposed to contain the same number of people, but basing districts on non-voting non-resident prison populations gives a handful of residents the same political power as thousands of residents elsewhere in the city.
50 State Guide to Fixing Prison-Based Gerrymandering
by Peter Wagner, Aleks Kajstura, Elena Lavarreda, Christian de Ocejo, and Sheila Vennell O'Rourke
Preventing prison-based gerrymandering in redistricting: What to watch for
by Peter Wagner (Prison Policy Initiative) and Brenda Wright (Dēmos)