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NPR NEWS 2018-02-10
02-13-2018, 08:54 PM
Post: #1
NPR NEWS 2018-02-10

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The Census Bureau has announced the way that it will count active-duty military and prisoners for the 2020 census. Those policies could add to the official population and thus the power in Congress of areas that host military bases, among other places. Here's NPR's Hansi Lo Wang.
HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Counting every resident in the U.S. every decade, as the Constitution requires, can be complicated, especially when you're dealing with soldiers on the move from bases like Fort Campbell.
KELLI PENDLETON: It sits on the state line of Tennessee and Kentucky.
WANG: Kelli Pendleton is on the Kentucky side, where she's the president of the chamber of commerce for Christian County, home to the soldiers of the 101st Airborne.
PENDLETON: They have been at a constant rotation of deployment since 2003.
WANG: And when many of them were overseas during the last census, an estimated 10,000 of them were not counted in Christian County because the deployed troops were considered residents of the home addresses they provided when they first enlisted.
PENDLETON: That trickles down to funding and other decisions that are made that will have an impact on our local economy.
WANG: But Pendleton says now she doesn't have to worry as much if the troops are gone again on census day 2020. That's because deployed service members will be counted as residents of the bases or ports they were temporarily assigned away from. It's a policy change that could raise the population of states with military bases and could help them gain more power in Congress when seats in the House of Representatives are divided up between the states based on their new headcounts. One way the census count is not changing in 2020 is how prisoners are tallied up.
ALEKS KAJSTURA: This impacts redistricting, which is the building block of our democracy.
WANG: Aleks Kajstura is the legal director of the Prison Policy Initiative, which has been pushing the Census Bureau to count prisoners not as residents of their correctional facilities but as residents of where they lived before they were incarcerated. She says many prisoners just happen to be behind bars on census day.
KAJSTURA: You know, people aren't at any given facility for very long.
WANG: But as the Census Bureau puts it, the majority of people in prisons live and sleep most of the time at the prison. Still, some states do count prisoners at their home addresses for their local legislative districts. One of those states is Maryland, where Catherine Pugh is the mayor of Baltimore.
CATHERINE PUGH: Once they pay their debt to society, they are in need of resources, and we should make sure that those resources are provided.
WANG: The Census Bureau says after the 2020 census, they will help those states recalculate their counts so their prisoner numbers are moved back to their home communities, but not for reapportioning Congress. Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News, New York.
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