Among the landmark cases decided by the US Supreme Court this term was Maryland’s redistricting map that, among other things, counts inmates as living at their last-known address. The Court recently upheld Maryland’s plan in its entirety, which means that inmate populations will no longer rely on the address where they are incarcerated, a first in Maryland history.
The law that changed the way that Maryland counts inmates was passed in 2010 by the Maryland General Assembly. This law, the Population Without Representation Act, would mean a net gain of 5,703 residents for Baltimore City, nearly a full percentage point gain for the municipality. The law was never implemented, because opposition, primarily from conservatives, brought the maps before the courts.
Civil rights groups such as the ACLU of Maryland hailed the Supreme Court’s decision as an end to “prison-based gerrymandering [that] takes representation away from urban communities and communities of color that disproportionately contain the home residences of incarcerated persons.”
The Sun estimates that counting the incarcerated at their last known address will mean the City will lose 2,094 residents (those imprisoned in Baltimore City who don’t live here), but gain 7,797 (Baltimoreans imprisoned outside of the City), meaning a +.9% change in overall population due to the “No Representation Without Population” law being upheld as part of the Court’s decision. Each jurisdiction in the Baltimore region is gaining population because of the law, with Anne Arundel County gaining the second most in population at +.6%.
However, the opponents to the redistricting map want to take it to the electorate on the grounds that it is a “power play” to gain more representation for Baltimore City and for Prince George’s County and that it was meant to give Democrats a better chance at gaining a Congressional seat this fall. A signature-gathering campaign, supported by some Maryland lawmakers, will likely bring the issue before the voters in November.