by Peter Wagner, February 23, 2006

On Feb. 9, the Jackson City Patriot in Jackson Michigan published an editorial calling for the Census Bureau to change how it counts incarcerated people because it “is time to stop reporting a misleading census profile about prison communities.”

Counting Convicts: Do it here or there?

Editorial published in the Jackson City Patriot, February 9, 2006

For 216 years, the U.S. Census has been counting prison convicts by the “usual residence” rule. That is, they’re counted in the place they hang their hats, eat and sleep — that is, where they are incarcerated. At Congress’ directive, the Census Bureau is considering whether a change is in order. We welcome the review.

Why would anyone want prisoners counted in any other way than by the “usual residence” rule? Because the flaws of that policy are becoming apparent.

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by Peter Wagner, February 17, 2006

In November 2005, the Appropriations Committee directed the Census Bureau to undertake a study of using “prisoners’ permanent homes of record, as opposed to their incarceration sites” in the decennial Census. Congress directed the Census Bureau to report its findings to Congress within 90 days. That report is expected soon.

In advance of that report and to aid the Census Bureau’s own investigation, Eric Lotke, Andrew Beveridge and I submitted a 24 page report to the Bureau on February 10: Why the Census Bureau can and must start collecting the home addresses of incarcerated people.

The report reviews the legal and practical reasons why the Census Bureau should change how it counts incarcerated people and then discusses the practical benefits that home-address enumeration would bring to Census Bureau operations.

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