by Peter Wagner, January 5, 2006

In past articles I have celebrated the efforts of jurisdictions to adjust the federal census data so that it meets their needs and people are counted in the right place. These efforts are vivid evidence that people would prefer that the Census counted incarcerated people differently. However, that these jurisdictions can fix the Census Bureau’s mistakes does not mean the Bureau should continue to make them. In order to fairly serve its data users in state and local government, the Census Bureau must change how it counts prisoners. As I will show, it is not only inconvenient for data users to fix the Census Bureau’s mistakes, for some communities it would be impossible for practical or legal reasons.

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