The Prison Rape Elimination Act standards are now taking effect in many states. Three auditors recently questioned staffers at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a practice inspection. Laura Sullivan/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Laura Sullivan/NPR

A 132-year-old building owned by the federal government, just six blocks from the White House, has been sitting empty for three decades. Laura Sullivan/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Laura Sullivan/NPR

Michael Taylor is scheduled to be executed Feb. 26 for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, but the state is having trouble finding the necessary drugs. AP/Missouri Correctional Office hide caption

itoggle caption AP/Missouri Correctional Office

Experts say today's heroin problem can be traced back to the aggressive prescribing of opioid drugs like OxyContin about 15 years ago. Toby Talbot/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Toby Talbot/AP

David Ranta speaks with reporters after being freed by a judge in March 2013. Ranta spent more than two decades in prison before a reinvestigation of his case cast serious doubt on evidence used to convict him in the shooting of a Brooklyn rabbi. Mary Altaffer/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Mary Altaffer/AP

When state prison populations were at their peak, prisons like San Quentin in California used gymnasiums to house inmates in bunks. Now it's the federal prison system that's overcrowded. The Bureau of Prisons says it's 35 to 40 percent over capacity. Eric Risberg/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Eric Risberg/AP

The bustling Sidamo coffee shop in Washington's H Street Northeast neighborhood. The area has attracted many new, young residents and high-end bars, retail and restaurants over the past several years. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Mentally ill inmates who are able to shower, eat, sit quietly and otherwise care for themselves live in the jail's Division 2. A psychologist is stationed right outside the room, and officers are specially trained to deal with psychotic episodes. Laura Sullivan/NPR hide caption

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Prince George's County, Md., Police Officer Juan Damian and Dora Escobar outside one of her popular check cashing businesses. Laura Sullivan/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Laura Sullivan/NPR