Black leaders urge census to change how it counts inmates

by Peter Wagner, December 17, 2009

The Washington Post reports:

A coalition of African American leaders concerned about minorities being undercounted in the 2010 Census called Wednesday for inmates at federal and state prisons to be tallied in their home communities instead of the towns where they are incarcerated.

Marc Morial at National Press Club

National Urban League CEO Marc Morial
at National Press Club.
Photo: Michael Connor/Washington Times

Commerce Department Secretary Gary Locke met with a dozen African-American leaders including the National Urban League, the NAACP, and the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. At a press conference afterwards, Marc H. Morial, president of the National Urban League and chairman of a census advisory committee, raised prison-based gerrymandering as one of the issues of Census Bureau policy affecting African-Americans that should be changed.

He said that crediting incarcerated people to the prison where they are incarcerated but do not legally reside disorts fair representation:

Noting that about 1.2 million of the nation’s 40 million African Americans are in prison, Morial said, “What we have in the prison population issue is a built-in undercount.”

Morial and about a dozen other black leaders brought up the prison count during a meeting with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to discuss how to make the census more accurate, a perennial problem.

See: Black leaders urge census to change how it counts inmates by Carol Morello, Washington Post and Blacks urge more efforts to improve census count by Hope Yen, Associated Press. Both articles were on December 17, 2009.

One Response

  1. News Roundup | Prisoners of the Census says, 1 week, 4 days after publication:

    […] December 16, Black leaders held a press conference in Washington D.C. to call for the Census Bureau to change how incarcerated people are counted. Coverage continued of […]

Tweet this page Follow @PrisonPolicy on Twitter Get our newsletter Donate


  • May 15, 2018:
    Our Policy Analyst Lucius Couloute will be at the LEDA Summit on Race and Inclusion in Holland, Michigan, presenting his research on the challenges and disadvantages people face when they are released from prison. Tickets are available on LEDA’s website.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.