Thirty-five philanthropic institutions signed a letter of public comment urging the Census Bureau to count incarcerated persons at their home residence in the 2020 Census, instead of at the prison facility in which they are housed on Census Day. The letter was submitted in response to the proposed “residence rules” for 2020, which govern where people are counted in the census. The current practice of counting incarcerated persons at prison facilities results in “prison gerrymandering,” especially at the state legislative level, because many prisons are located in rural, predominantly White areas, far from the home communities of most inmates – who are disproportionately people of color and reside in urban neighborhoods.
FCCP’s Funders Census Initiative (FCI) 2020 working group and the Democracy Funders Collaborative Census Subgroup spearheaded the effort to engage philanthropy on a key census policy issue. The leadership of the Census Subgroup and FCI co-chairs Gary Bass of Bauman Foundation, Cindy Guy of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Ethan Frey of the Ford Foundation, were instrumental in reaching out to philanthropic institutions to urge their support for the letter. The Census Bureau published the “2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations” in the Federal Register notice (81 FR 42577) earlier this summer (with a 60-day comment period) and expects to finalize the rules by year’s end. FCCP thanks its entire network for helping to amplify philanthropy’s voice on this important rulemaking that will determine how incarcerated persons are counted in the census and which has far-reaching implications for public policy, resource allocation, redistricting – and indeed, for our democracy.