A portrait of Peter Wagner.
Peter Wagner
Executive Director
I need your help. For 14 years, the Prison Policy Initiative has been at the forefront of the movement to keep the prison system from exerting undue influence on our electoral process. Our work has changed how our democracy works in 4 states and hundreds of local governments. We've even won at the Supreme Court, but our long-term viability depends on people like you investing in our work.

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—Peter Wagner
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by New York Times, January 17, 2007

new york times editorial thumbnail

The Census Bureau typically uses the decennial census to test data-collection methods that become routine later on. The 2010 census should include a test run at counting the nation’s 1.4 million prison inmates at their permanent addresses instead of in prisons. That would help bring an end to a corrosive but little known practice that distorts the political process in virtually every corner of the country.

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January 3, 2007

Every decade, the Census Bureau counts tens of thousands of Chicagoans incarcerated in state prisons as if they were part of downstate communities, diluting the votes of Chicagoans and distorting how Illinois draws its legislative districts. The next census is less than four years away, and the Census Bureau is resisting calls to start counting prisoners as residents of their legal home addresses.

States are not powerless victims of this misguided census enumeration policy, however, points out a new article in Northwestern University’s prestigious Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Instead, Illinois and other states may legally apportion citizens to reflect their true legal residence rather than the misleading usual residence employed by the Census Bureau.

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