(Map Source- Prison Policy Initiative)
NY Times- For decades, predominantly rural and Republican districts have had extra clout in state and local legislative bodies because their large inmate populations were counted as local residents in apportioning representation (see map below). Now, the Census Bureau has agreed to give states a tool that could dilute the political power of those districts.
In May 2011, in time for Congressional and legislative reapportionment, the bureau will identify exactly where group quarters like prisons are and how many people occupy them. States would then have the option of counting them in the local population or not.
“This removes a technical problem,” said Peter Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group that favors alternatives to prison sentences and urges that inmates be counted in their hometowns. “The census is going to say where the prisons are and how many people are in them, which will enable states the practical choice of counting them in the wrong place or not counting them at all.”