A broad coalition of 40 civil rights groups told the U.S. Census Bureau that its method of assigning residency to incarcerated people is discriminatory and harms democracy.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said the groups sent a letter to the agency on Thursday urging it to count prisoners as residents of their home address—not the place where they are incarcerated.

Prisoners are disproportionately people of color from urban areas but typically housed at facilities in rural White communities.

The letter states:

“Failure to count incarcerated persons at their home address preserves an unacceptably discriminatory census result that deprives underserved urban neighborhoods of fair representation, while shifting political power to communities that do not represent the interests of incarcerated persons or their families.”

According to the groups, the policy is inconsistent because the agency assigns residency to military members based on their home of record—not the military base where they are assigned.

“In what world is prison considered someone’s usual residence?” asked Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Miscounting people who are incarcerated robs them of their identities, their personhood, and their right to proper representation in our democracy.”

The range of groups signing the letter include the NAACP, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and National Council of Jewish Women.

SOURCE: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty

 

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