The Census and the Cell Block

This year, the census will count over a million inmates in the wrong place — and their home communities will suffer for it.

"Once, only once, and in the right place" goes the hopeful mantra of the hard-working and underappreciated Census Bureau. But the current rules for counting incarcerated persons are at odds with the last part of this goal. Next week, the census will count 1.6 million people in the wrong spot, distorting democratic representation in many states and localities.