The commission in charge of redrawing Pennsylvania’s House and Senate maps has voted 3-2 to make a major change to the redistricting process: It will no longer count many state prisoners as residents of the districts where they’re incarcerated, but rather as residents of the districts where they originally lived.

Thirteen Pennsylvanians who had been serving life in prison are now going free, after a state board recommended them for release and Gov. Tom Wolf signed off on their commutation this week.

Prisons face many of the same risks for spreading the coronavirus as nursing homes but corrections officers and inmates are at the back of the line to get vaccines.

One in five prisoners in the U.S. has had COVID-19, which is four times as high as the general population. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Corrections has recently taken new steps to combat the virus behind bars.

The State Correctional Institution at Huntingdon reported Tuesday that 136 inmates and 38 staff have tested positive for COVID-19, the largest number among all Pennsylvania state prisons.


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