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Maine Legislature saves Warren from “undue burdens and confusion” caused by Census Bureau’s prison miscount

LD 1697 allows town to exclude incarcerated populations for the purposes of determining population-based services.

by Leah Sakala, March 30, 2012

The town of Warren, Maine, won’t have to pay for the Census Bureau’s prison miscount after all, thanks to a new bill that was recently signed by the Governor.

Last month, I explained that the relocation of the Maine State Prison to the Town of Warren had the potential to cause serious problems for the town. Since the Census Bureau counted all the people incarcerated in the prison as if they were residents of the prison, the prison relocation pushed Warren’s total reported population over 4,000. And in Maine, any municipality with more than 4,000 people is required to enforce the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code and cover additional county dispatch fees.

Fortunately, State Representative Wesley Richardson recognized the harm of forcing the town of Warren to foot additional expenses on account of incarcerated people who are not permitted to use local services. To solve the problem, he proposed LD 1697 to exclude the incarcerated population for the purposes of determining the “resident” population of Warren.

As the preamble of the legislation explains, the new bill provides Warren legislative relief “to avoid undue burdens and confusion” caused by the Census Bureau’s practice of counting incarcerated people as if they were residents of the place where the prison is located.

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