The Census Bureau counts everyone housed in federal, state, and local prisons in its count of the general population of the Census block that contains the prison. When this data is used for redistricting, the result violates the "One Person, One Vote" rulings of the Supreme Court, which require that legislative districts at every level of government contain equal numbers of residents in order to ensure fair and equal representation for all.
The Census Bureau needs to hear from elected officials -- the people who actually use the data to draw districts -- that the Bureau should change how it counts people in prison. The Prison Policy Initiative and democracy and criminal justice advocates are calling on the public to ask their elected officials to join a letter written by New York State Senator Eric Schneiderman and St. Lawrence County Legislator Tedra Cobb to the U.S. Census Bureau. The letter asks the Census Bureau to collect the home addresses of all incarcerated persons in the next national decennial census and count them at those addresses.
How to get involved
- Please sign the Schneiderman/Cobb letter by mailing, emailing or faxing your signature to Peter Wagner,
Prison Policy Initiative, PO Box 127 Northampton MA 01061, email:
. New signatures will be forwarded to the Census Bureau on a quarterly basis,
and the Prison Policy Initiative will provide you with a press release about your participation that you can
distribute to local media.
- Endorse the letter campaign and ask elected officials in your region to sign on to the Schneiderman/Cobb
letter. Ask your membership to write to their elected officials requesting their participation in the
Schneiderman/Cobb letter. Organizations that wish to join the campaign should contact Peter Wagner <>.
- Ask your
ional, state and city or county legislators to sign on to the Schneiderman/Cobb letter. Tell
other people about this campaign.
Resources for individuals:
- Sample letter from a constituent asking an elected official to sign on to the Schneiderman/Cobb letter
- Sample letter from a constituent thanking an elected official for having already signed the Schneiderman/Cobb letter
- To look up your elected officials, enter your zip code
and follow the prompts on the Congress.org website to identify your legislators and their addresses.
- Don't forget to include a copy of the Schneiderman/Cobb letter in your communications with your legislators. You can include the text or we have a two page pdf version.
- See also the tips at About.com for writing effective letters to elected officials.
Legislators who have signed the letter
- State Senator Eric Adams, Brooklyn, NY
- County Legislator Tedra L. Cobb, Hermon, NY
- State Senator Martin Connor, New York, NY
- State Senator Ruben Diaz, Bronx, NY
- State Representative Harold V. Dutton, Jr., Houston, TX
- Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat, New York, NY
- Assembly Member Herman D. Farrell, Jr., New York NY
- Assembly Member Deborah Glick, New York, NY
- State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Bronx, NY
- State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Bronx, NY
- State Representative Terri Hodge, Dallas, TX
- State Representative Constance A. Howard, Chicago, IL
- Council Member Robert Jackson, New York, NY
- Assembly Member Brian Kavanaugh, New York, NY
- Assembly Member Micah Kellner, New York, NY
- State Senator Liz Krueger, New York, NY
- Council Member Jessica Lappin, New York, NY
- Council Member Miguel Martinez, New York, New York
- State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Brooklyn, NY
- Congressman Jerrold Nadler, New York, NY
- Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell, New York, NY
- State Senator George Onorato, Long Island City, NY
- State Senator Kevin Parker, Brooklyn, NY
- Assembly Member Adam Clayton Powell, New York, NY
- State Senator John Sabini, Jackson Heights, NY
- State Senator Diane Savino, Staten Island, NY
- State Senator Eric Schneiderman, New York, NY
- State Senator Jose Serrano, New York, NY
- State Senator Toby Stavisky, Flushing, NY
- State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Yonkers, NY
- Council Member Melissa Mark Viverito, New York, NY
- Assembly Member Keith Wright, New York, NY