Prison is a tough place, but Congress made an exception nearly 30 years ago, giving terminally ill inmates and prisoners with extraordinary family circumstances an early way out. It's called compassionate release.
But a recent investigation found that many federal inmates actually die while their requests drift through the system.
NPR continues its conversations about The Race Card Project, where NPR Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris asks people to send in six-word stories about race and culture. The submissions are personal, provocative and often quite candid.
Credit Ian Harrowell, Christine Austin, Manish Arora / Harvard School of Public Health
This model of a molar shows color-coded barium banding patterns that reveal weaning age.
Credit Alyson Hurt, Adam Cole / NPR / Christine Austin / Westmead Centre for Oral Health
Top: Lines on a 100,000-year-old Neanderthal tooth mark the passage of time. Bottom: The distribution of barium shows dietary transition: low barium before birth (1), high barium during breast-feeding (2) and falling barium as the Neanderthal transitions to a mixed diet (3).
Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, breast-feed their offspring for several years. Some baby orangutans nurse until they are 7 years old.
But modern humans wean much earlier. In preindustrial societies, babies stop nursing after about two years. Which raises the question: How did we get that way? When did we make the evolutionary shift from apelike parenting to the short breast-feeding period of humans?
It's time now for your letters, and we got many about our coverage of the tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma. Several were praise for our story yesterday about survivors who lost most of their possessions but considered themselves lucky.
CHRISTINE PARRISH: They were digging her out while we were looking through our stuff. And we thought they were looking for their dogs, and it was her. And they found her, and she was passed.
There has been an unexpected turn in the Boston Marathon bombing case. A man who was thought to have ties with one of the bombing suspects was shot dead early this morning by authorities in Florida. He allegedly tried to attack an FBI agent who was interviewing him. NPR's Dina Temple-Raston has been following the story and is here with the latest. Hi, Dina.
Ibrahim Shomali, a Palestinian priest, offers Communion under the olive trees of the Cremisan Valley in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. This is part of a regular protest against Israeli plans to build a section of its West Bank barrier here, which would separate Palestinians from their agricultural lands.
Credit Emily Harris / NPR
Israeli army Capt. Barak Raz stands on a concrete wall that is part of the barrier separating Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Soldiers climb to this spot during Palestinian protests to disperse crowds with tear gas or a foul-smelling liquid nicknamed "skunk."
Israeli army Capt. Barak Raz climbs a metal staircase to the top of a high concrete wall that is part of Israel's West Bank barrier. From his perch, he overlooks both the Palestinian village of Bil'in and Modin Illit, the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank, with some 50,000 residents.
The barrier here used to be a fence. After many confrontations with Israeli soldiers, Palestinian villagers won a court case, and the fence was moved off some of their land. But since the barrier was moved closer to an Israeli settlement, it was rebuilt as a wall.
George Plimpton boxed with Archie Moore, played quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and played percussion for the New York Philharmonic. He did these jobs, and many others, as an amateur. Plimpton was a professional writer. A new documentary about his life makes the case that Plimpton's best story was his own story, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.
JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: When you listen to George Plimpton's voice, it's like hearing echoes of a New York that no longer exists.
After five marathon sessions debating 150 proposed amendments, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a landmark rewriting of the nation's immigration laws this week — and the bill emerged largely intact.
Three Republicans voted with the panel's 10 Democrats on Tuesday night to forward the bill to the full Senate. That strong showing followed a wrenching choice for Democrats on the committee: whether to risk shattering support for the bill by amending it to recognize equal rights for same-sex couples.
Public opinion about the scandals plaguing the Obama administration is decidedly mixed.
Republicans believe that the trio of controversies — concerning Benghazi, the IRS, and the Justice Department snooping on media phone records — are evidence enough that President Obama is either running a government motivated by partisan politics, or is badly out of touch.
Democrats, however, are proving to be much more forgiving.