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Once, Only Once, and in the Right Place: Residence Rules in the Decennial Census
more than any other place. This is consistent with current Census Bureau practice. We do not rule out a principle being added to our suggested listing to count prisoners at a location other than a prison; however, the information necessary for such a decision does not now exist.
We differ from proponents of an immediate change in Census Bureau policy on counting prisoners because our focus is broader: our desired objective is the collection of secondary (“any residence elsewhere”) information for all census respondents. This broader scope leads us to recommend a major experiment as part of the 2010 census as the research base, rather than trying to force massive changes in the design and operations of the 2008 dress rehearsal. Accordingly, and consistent with our other recommendations on changes to nonhousehold enumeration, we recommend:
Recommendation 7.2:A research and testing program, including experimentation as part of the 2010 census, should be initiated by the Census Bureau to evaluate the feasibility and costof assigning incarcerated and institutionalized individuals, whohave another address, to the other location.
Some elaborations on our approach, and on the information needed to inform a change in the principle applying to the counting of prisoners, are in order.
Our principles hold that determination of usual residence should be made at the level of the individual; this would mean that persons in prison need not have their residency fixed solely by virtue of their location in a structure identified as a prison. Using the panel’s recommended question-based approach and revised nonhousehold enumeration operations, the census could obtain individual-level information on time spent in prison and expected date of release. The Bureau would then have the information needed to make individual-level judgments on the most appropriate counting location.
Wagner and Lotke (2004), Wagner et al. (2006), and Levingston and Muller (2006) all favor direct enumeration—individual questionnaire distribution and interviewing—as a preferred means for gathering information from prisoners. We agree, as we stated above. Wagner et al. (2006) cite press accounts of two notable success stories—direct enumeration, even in “supermax” security areas, of Folsom State Prison (California) and the Utah State Prison.6 However, particularly in the case of prisons, complete direct enumeration of inmates is an ideal but almost certainly unattainable goal. In 2000, less than 20 percent of
A “supermax” facility or unit “segregates inmates, restricts their movement, and limits their direct access to other inmates or prison staff.” As of 1997, 57 pure-“supermax” prisons were open in the United States, 16 of them in Texas alone (Cullen and Sundt, 2000:498). In the enumeration of a supermax unit in Utah, a prison official commented that “rather than pass forms back and forth … we had [census takers] ask them the questions through the cell” (Wagner et al., 2006:25).