In Latin America — home to the vast majority of the world's most violent cities — it's said the only part of a prison a guard controls is the gate, leaving convicts to fend for themselves inside, even running criminal networks from behind bars.
I wanted to understand how a prison like that worked, and I was in luck: A colleague knew a man serving time a Venezuelan prison. The prisoner got in touch with the leader of the inmates, who sent word that he'd be willing to see us.
The Senate voted Monday to approve its version of the farm bill, a massive spending measure that covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance and sets the nation's farm policy for the next five years.
The centerpiece of that policy is an expanded crop insurance program, designed to protect farmers from losses, that some say amounts to a highly subsidized gift to agribusiness. That debate is set to continue as the House plans to take up its version of the bill this month.
As we head into the summer months, NPR is looking back to the summer of 1963, a momentous year in civil rights history. As part of NPR's partnership with The Race Card Project, which asks people to distill their thoughts on race to six words, Host/Special Correspondent Michele Norris is asking people who were on the front lines of history to share their memories and their thoughts on race in America today.
Twenty Feet from Stardom, filmmaker Morgan Neville's new documentary, is a reminder that most of pop music's catchiest hooks, riffs and refrains were sung by voices harmonizing in the background. Neville says he wanted to put backup singers — black, female and honed in church — front and center.
"I was really more interested in people who were voices for hire," he says, "who were able to walk into sessions never knowing what they had to do and could bring it."