Rhode Island Reapportionment Commission approves new guidelines for counting of incarcerated individuals

On Jan. 5, 2022, the Rhode Island Reapportionment Commission voted 15-1 to approve new guidelines concerning the counting of incarcerated individuals for the purpose of redistricting. Under the new rules, people incarcerated for less than two years will be counted as residents of their former residences in future General Assembly and Congressional map drafts. Previously, incarcerated individuals were considered residents of the districts where they were incarcerated.

The Commission is made up of 18 legislators and citizens nominated by the majority and minority leaders of the Rhode Island state Senate and House of Representatives. It can recommend congressional and state legislative redistricting plans to the state legislature, which may “adopt, modify, or ignore the commission’s proposals.” The legislature has not yet held votes on congressional or legislative maps for the 2020 redistricting cycle.

Twelve other states require redistricting authorities to count prison inmates who are state residents at their pre-incarceration address, rather than in the community where their detention facility is located. Five of those states counted incarcerated persons at their pre-incarceration addresses for legislative maps only, and seven counted them at their pre-incarceration residences for both legislative and congressional maps.

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