Rep. Clay applauds Census Bureau decision to change reporting procedure for prisoners
by Peter Wagner, February 13, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2010
STEVEN ENGELHARDT (314) 504-4029
Says Decision Will Improve Accuracy, Restore Fairness, Reverse a Historic Injustice
WASHINGTON — Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay (D) Missouri, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census & National Archives has negotiated a ground-breaking agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau that will change how census counts of prisoners are reported to state and local governments. The policy change, which moves up the date when counts of incarcerated populations are reported, could potentially result in increased urban and suburban representation in state legislatures and local governments.
“I want to commend U.S. Census Director Dr. Robert Groves and his staff for acting to improve accuracy, restore fairness and reverse historic patterns of injustice that have been applied to prisoners for many years,” said Chairman Clay. “The impact of this decision is enormous. States and local governments will now have the opportunity to do the right thing and prevent the overrepresentation of areas where prisons are located.”
Previously, the Census Bureau provided counts from group quarters, like prisons, only after states had finished their redistricting. That resulted in mostly rural districts with prisons getting extra representation in their legislatures.
At the urging of Congressman Clay, Census officials will now release data on prison populations to states much earlier than in previous national counts. If states take advantage of this more timely information, the impact on the composition of state legislatures, local councils and other elected bodies could be very significant.
“The prison population in this country is made up of a disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos,” said Mr. Clay. “The Census is now giving state and local governments an opportunity to stand up for fairness and justice. I encourage them to take full advantage of this decision.”