Mary Helen Flores (center) is the founder of Citizens Against Voter Abuse. John Burnett/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption John Burnett/NPR

Jonathan Treviño poses in front of a drug bust. Courtesy of Jonathan Treviño hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Jonathan Treviño

Jonathan Treviño shows seized contraband. The former police narcotics squad leader is currently serving 17 years in prison for reselling narcotics back to drug dealers. Courtesy of Jonathan Treviño hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Jonathan Treviño

Elena Biamon holds coffee berries grown on her farm near Jayuya, a town in Puerto Rico's mountainous interior. Greg Allen/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Greg Allen/NPR

PREPA's Central Palo Seco power station in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The utility's bondholders want to raise rates. That's a challenge when the median income is about half that of Mississippi, yet the U.S. territory's energy costs are among the highest in the nation. Alvin Baez-Hernandez/Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Alvin Baez-Hernandez/Reuters/Landov

Dalma Cartagena teaches a class on agricultural science to elementary-school students in Orocovis, Puerto Rico. "I'm preparing them to make good decisions when it comes to the environment and healthy foods," she says. Greg Allen/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Greg Allen/NPR

Protesters gather April 30 outside Puerto Rico's Capitol building in San Juan to oppose Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla's budget proposal. The plan would raise taxes to help cover the state's massive debt. Ricardo Arduengo/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Ricardo Arduengo/AP

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

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The shocking death of basketball player Len Bias from a cocaine overdose in 1986 led Congress to pass tough mandatory sentences for drug crimes. AP hide caption

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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

Scott Pegau, a scientist at the Prince William Sound Science Center, studies the effects of spilled oil on the environment in Cordova, Alaska. Debbie Elliott/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Debbie Elliott/NPR

Orca Inlet, Cordova's fishing harbor, on a blustery day this month. Commercial fishing is the small Alaskan town's primary industry. Marisa Peñaloza/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Marisa Peñaloza/NPR