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Southern Center for Human Rights advises the Census Bureau “to acknowledge the transient nature of mass incarceration”

by Alison Walsh, July 22, 2016

For the past two weeks, we’ve been highlighting the 2015 comment letters submitted to the Census Bureau in response to the federal register notice on Residence Rule and Residence Situations. Now that the Bureau has announced plans to continue counting incarcerated people as residents of prison locations, organizations and individuals have until August 1st to submit a new round of comments before the residence rules are finalized.

The Southern Center for Human Rights recently submitted a comment letter calling on the Census Bureau to “acknowledge the transient nature of modern incarceration and to count incarcerated people as residents of their home address.”

This is an important point because “the Bureau has decided that other populations – deployed overseas military and juveniles staying in residential treatment centers – should be counted in their home location.” The Southern Center explains that like overseas-deployed military personnel, incarcerated adults are unlikely to stay at one facility for long:

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, the average person in the state prison system has been transferred 4 times and the median time they spent at the current facility is just 9 months. The data makes it clear that most prison populations are transient.

When incarcerated people make up such a significant portion of Georgia’s total population, “[c]ounting them in the wrong place is not an error that can be overlooked.”

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