Shanking the Count?
by Peter Wagner, May 12, 2010
The only opponent to Maryland’s new “No Representation Without Population” law that will count prisoners for redistricting purposes as residents of their home, not prison, addresses, is Delegate Christopher Shank. Eighteen percent of his current district’s population is incarcerated. This is the largest example of prison-based gerrymandering in a state legislative district yet identified.
But I wonder if a simple misunderstanding, and not self-interest, could be at the root of Delegate Shank’s opposition to the new law. Two weeks ago, Annapolis’s The Capital described Delegate Shank’s opposition:
House Minority Whip Christopher Shank, R-Washington, said inmates in western Maryland often have sentences stretching into decades…. “(Inmates) are in there for a long time.”
Delegate Shank may be confusing the prison buildings and his constituents who work there, with the prisoners. The prison buildings that he drives past will be there for a long time, but the people inside will not. I can’t find the equivalent figure for Maryland, but the typical state prisoner will be home in 34 months.(source)
Incarcerated people are just passing through Delegate Shank’s district, they are not a part of the communities that he represents, so they should not be credited to those communities at districting time.