A coalition of African American leaders concerned about minorities being undercounted in the 2010 Census has called for inmates at federal and state prisons to be tallied in their home communities instead of the towns where they are incarcerated, the Washington Post reports. Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League and chairman of a census advisory committee, said the practice shortchanges communities in money and democratic representation. Census statistics are used to calculate the allocation of more than $478 billion in federal funds and to draw political boundaries.
Noting that about 1.2 million of the nation’s 40 million African Americans are in prison, Morial said, “What we have in the prison population issue is a built-in undercount.” Morial and other black leaders brought up the prison count in a meeting with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to discuss how to make the census more accurate. In 2006, the Census Bureau gave Congress a report on problems that would arise if prisoners were to be counted in their home communities. Would a prisoner be counted in a census tract he lived in before even though someone else lives in that house now? Or would he be counted in the community where he plans to live on release?