On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily affirmed the decision of a 3-judge panel in Maryland, in Fletcher v Lamone, 11-1178. Maryland and a handful of other states now draw congressional and legislative districts under the assumption that prisoners should be tallied (for redistricting purposes) in the community in which they lived before they were imprisoned, instead of in the town where the prison is located.
The 3-judge court had upheld Maryland’s system. Today’s summary affirmance means that other states are now free to follow the same policy, without fear that that method of counting prisoners is unconstitutional.
The effect of Maryland’s system is to give less representation in the U.S. House, and in the state legislature, to communities in which prisons are located. Generally, prisons are in smaller towns, and generally prisoners come from large urban areas, so the Maryland system usually means increased representation for urban areas.