Maryland's prisoner-count bill is not what it seems

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Regarding the April 15 Metro article "Md. to count prisoners in home towns":

The article repeats a common misunderstanding. The "biggest beneficiary" of the redistricting bill is not, in fact, Baltimore. Rather than being a "power grab from metropolitan areas," the bill would prevent a few small groups of people from stealing political power away from every other Maryland resident.

Although most of Maryland's prisoners (68 percent) come from Baltimore, the big losers in the game of prison-based gerrymandering are the majority of Marylanders who do not happen to have a prison in their district.

When some people are given more representation than their population warrants, everyone else's vote is diluted. The bill would return political power from the few to the vast majority of Marylanders.

Cindy Boersma, Baltimore

The writer is legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

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