Marisa Peñaloza Marisa Peñaloza is a senior producer on the National Desk.

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

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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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AP

Judge Regrets Harsh Human Toll Of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

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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

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

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Debbie Elliott/NPR

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Brings 'Bad Juju' And Pain 25 Years Later

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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

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25 Years After Spill, Alaska Town Struggles Back From 'Dead Zone'

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Filling The Gaps For Veterans With Bad Discharges

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After Discharge Upgrade, Marine Finally Finds A Reason To Live

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Michael Hartnett was a Marine during the Gulf War and served in Somalia. He received a bad conduct discharge for abusing drugs and alcohol. His wife, Molly, helped him turn his life around. Quil Lawrence/NPR hide caption

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Path To Reclaiming Identity Steep For Vets With 'Bad Paper'

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For Veterans, 'Bad Paper' Is A Catch-22 For Treatment

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Reed Holway spent 13 months in Iraq. He says PTSD brought on a drinking problem when he returned to the States — and that eventually led to a bad-conduct discharge. Vets with "bad paper" have trouble getting any VA health benefits — even for PTSD. Quil Lawrence/NPR hide caption

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Quil Lawrence/NPR

Other-Than-Honorable Discharge Burdens Like A Scarlet Letter

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Food distributed by the Manna Food Center is packed in cardboard boxes to be loaded into clients' cars. Chloe Coleman/NPR hide caption

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Chloe Coleman/NPR

Stuck In Poverty Amid Signs Of Recovery

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Bob Moses works with Jennifer Augustine, Guitoscard Denize, Darius Collins and other students who are part of this Algebra Project classroom. It's one of several student cohorts across the country where students who've struggled with math get to college-level by the end of high school. Christopher Connelly/NPR hide caption

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Christopher Connelly/NPR

To '60s Civil Rights Hero, Math Is Kids' Formula For Success

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Myla Haider (shown at a press conference in Washington, D.C., in 2011) says she initially decided not to report that she'd been raped because she'd "never met one victim who was able to report the crime and still retain their military career." Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Sexual Violence Victims Say Military Justice System Is 'Broken'

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