Boxed In About half of America's inmates are incarcerated for drug crimes, a legacy of 1980s laws that prosecutors use to target not only kingpins but also low-level couriers and girlfriends.

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

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Courtesy of the Padilla Family

Sentenced For Life, Inmate Still Holds Hope For Release

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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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Marisa Peñaloza/NPR

After 17 Years Behind Bars, Coming Home To A Different Life

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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

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Dan Henson/iStockphoto

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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AP

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

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