Civil Rights Leaders Denounce Census Bureau’s Residence Criteria and Residence Situations Rule

February 12 2018

Washington, D.C. (February 12, 2018) – Today, National Urban League President and CEO, Marc H. Morial, joined national leaders of civil rights organizations to denounce the U.S. Census Bureau’s failure to change their “usual residence” rule by continuing to count incarcerated  persons at the prison of confinement instead as part of their home community in the upcoming 2020 census. This decision serves to perpetuate the practice of prison gerrymandering.

The National Urban League began in 2010 pushing the Census Bureau to count incarcerated persons at their home address rather than at their place of confinement.  It also led a campaign in 2016 opposing the Bureau’s proposed 2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations Rule and joined leaders in submitting comments to the Bureau urging it to reconsider counting the nearly 2 million incarcerated individuals across the country as part of their prison populations, giving undue power to those communities while “diluting the representational equity of a prisoner’s home community.”

“The Census Bureau’s announcement that it will continue to count incarcerated people at the location of their confinement, rather than their home communities, is unfair and unjust. It disenfranchises and strips individuals of their rights while incarcerated, and makes it more difficult for their overwhelmingly poor and urban communities to provide them with adequate resources upon their reentry. The Bureau has a clear bias with regards to how it will classify military personnel, who will be counted as members of their home bases and not their residence of deployment, versus prison populations, making this decision all the more  indefensible,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial.

“The U.S. Census Bureau’s failure to change their ‘usual residence’ rule is but another example of the tone deaf agenda of the U.S. Census when it comes to underserved communities and populations of color. The Census continues to exploit prison populations for unfair economic gain, rather than allowing communities of color to receive the support and benefits they deserve. We support representational equity for all prisoners, and the National Action Network will continue to fight this injustice across the country,” said National Action Network President Reverend Al Sharpton.

“The NAACP denounces the Census Bureau’s decision to continue the ‘usual residence’ rule as it pertains to the counting of incarcerated people. The ‘usual residence’ rule compounds the devastating impact mass incarceration has on communities by diverting federal funds and weakening electoral representation. The Census Bureau’s 2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations rule is simply another form of gerrymandering and yet another method to disenfranchise African Americans and communities of color,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.

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Media Contact: Jordun Lawrence | jlawrence@nul.org