Redistricting commission to consider how inmates are counted

October 24, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The commission that’s redrawing political districts in Rhode Island is going to consider the way inmates are counted for census and redistricting purposes.

The commission said Friday that it’s adding a meeting to its schedule to discuss the topic.

Inmates are counted at their prison addresses rather than their home addresses. The state Senate has approved legislation in the past to change this, but it stalled in the House.

Former state Sen. Harold Metts, a Providence Democrat, sponsored the bill, saying that “prison-based gerrymandering” can shift political power significantly because counting inmates at the prison in Cranston as Cranston residents affects the makeup of districts in that community and can dilute minority voting strength statewide.

The additional hearing will be scheduled at the State House within two weeks.

The state constitution mandates redistricting for the General Assembly districts and the two congressional districts after each 10-year census. Rep. Robert Phillips, a Woonsocket Democrat, and Sen. Stephen Archambault, a Smithfield Democrat, lead the commission.