The Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act allocates grant money to states, which are supposed to protect young offenders and make sure they're not housed with adult criminals. Whistleblowers say they've spent years flagging problems with the programs. David Goldman/AP hide caption

itoggle caption David Goldman/AP

Cruden ranks the Gulf oil spill as one of the most significant environmental disasters of our time. It "deserves ... all of our energy to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," he says. Gerald Herbert/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Gerald Herbert/AP

"They expect a certain amount of leniency or mercy from me, because I'm a woman, and if you've ever met my mother you should know that's not even in the cards," Lynch said in 2012. "She's much tougher than I am." J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

itoggle caption J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Using Tor, or The Onion Router, enables users to hide their online activities. Advocates say the network protects the privacy of activists. But prosecutors say it's used extensively by criminals — and is making it harder for law enforcement to do its job. Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

David Padilla with his grandchildren. Seventeen years ago, a judge found Padilla guilty of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Courtesy of the Padilla Family hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Padilla Family

Stephanie George (right) with her daughter, Kendra, and son Courtney. They were 5 and 8 when she went to prison on a drug charge. Last December, President Obama commuted her sentence. Marisa Peñaloza/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Marisa Peñaloza/NPR

NPR's series looks at the human toll of mandatory minimum prison sentences. The White House and the Justice Department have taken the unprecedented step of asking for candidates who might win early release from prison through presidential pardons or commutations in the final years of the Obama presidency. Dan Henson/iStockphoto hide caption

itoggle caption Dan Henson/iStockphoto