ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A new Maryland law that counts prison inmates as residents of where they last lived will delay when lawmakers will see updated census numbers for the purpose of redrawing legislative districts, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said Friday.
Maryland is scheduled to receive updated census numbers next week, but Miller told lawmakers the numbers will have to be adjusted to incorporate where prisoners lived before they were incarcerated. Miller said lawmakers will see the updated numbers with prison residency adjustments before the end of the state’s legislative session in April.
“We’re going to have them before the end of the session, but apparently because of the law we passed last year taking into account where the prisoners live, unlike other states, they’re going to have to be finetuned before they’re distributed,” Miller, D-Calvert, said.
Last year, Maryland became the first state in the nation to count inmates as residents where they last lived — typically urban centers — instead of the rural areas where they’re often imprisoned. Advocates for the change say the way inmates were previously tallied skewed how people in all areas are represented in Congress, legislatures and other elected offices.
Maryland’s prison population averages about 27,000 inmates a year, according to legislative documents.
Since Maryland changed its law last year, Delaware and New York have passed similar laws.
Maryland did not gain or lose any congressional seats as a result of the 2010 Census. The state’s population increased by 9 percent to 5.77 million.
Leading lawmakers have said they expect to tackle the issue of redistricting during a brief special session this summer. Political analysts say few major changes are likely because Maryland’s Democrat-controlled legislature will want to protect Democratic incumbents. Six of the state’s eight members of Congress are Democrats.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)