Don’t Count On the Census

The 2020 census will make a huge imprint on the nation for a decade, from determining how much federal money goes to states to divvying up congressional seats and helping city planners figure out where to build schools. But, as FIJ grantee Natasha Haverty reports for Reveal, when the Census Bureau does its next count this April, it will be counting nearly two million people in the wrong place: in the place where they are incarcerated, not where they call home.

What started as a quirk in the way we count people behind bars now serves to reinforce some of our country’s ugliest racial and political dynamics. In her report on a practice called “prison gerrymandering,” Haverty investigates what it means when our criminal justice system intrudes on the democratic process.

Read more and listen to Haverty’s podcast segment, published by Reveal, here.

Credit: Illustration elements taken from a drawing by Clifford K. Berryman, via the National Archives. Photo illustration by Michael I Schiller/Reveal