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“Home of record” would be a more accurate “home address” than the prison town

by Peter Wagner, December 22, 2003

Unlike the other populations in other Census controversies (college students and military personnel) prisoners are not considered a part of the local community. After release, the incarcerating community no doubt wishes that ex-prisoners would leave on the first bus out of town.

The Census should allow prisoners to provide their own addresses, or it could use the “home of record” on file with the Department of Corrections. Using “home of record” to address special Census populations is not new. When at the last minute the 1990 Census decided to count military personnel stationed abroad as residents of individual states, they used the Department of Defenses’ home of record information despite the fact that this information tended to be outdated and biased towards the income tax laws of New Hampshire.

The Supreme Court upheld the Census’s use of “home of record” for military personnel abroad in the 1990 Census in Franklin v. Massachusetts 505 U.S. 788 (1992).

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