America has a prison problem. The land of the free is not only the world's largest jailer, but also dishes out sentencing lengths significantly longer than those in other developed nations.

What happens between the time prisoners surrender their independence and take their next breath of freedom? Here, a look behind the bars and into the lives of America's inmates.

Inmates relax in a recreation room where they are housed due to overcrowding at the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino on June 3, 2011. | (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Cori Walters, 32, hugs her daughter at the California Institute for Women state prison in Chino on May 5, 2012, during a Mother's Day event. The program, "Get On The Bus," brings children and their caregivers from across California to visit their parents in prison. | (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Inmates participate in the workshop "Commedia Dell'Arte," part of the The Actors' Gang Prison Project program at the California Rehabilitation Center, in Norco on Sept. 30, 2014. | (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

An inmate patient sits in his cell at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville on March 17, 2010. | (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

Inmates make phone calls at Maricopa County's Tent City Jail in Phoenix, Arizona, on July 30, 2010. The jail is known for housing illegal immigrants who are caught living in the state. | (REUTERS/Joshua Lott)

Inmate Jamar Allah flips his tassel before receiving his GED at a graduation ceremony for inmates at the George Motchan Detention Center at New York City's Rikers Island on June 26, 2012. | (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Women chat as they lie in beds placed in the communal area outside cells due to overcrowding at the Los Angeles County Women's jail in Lynwood, California, on April 26, 2013. | (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Prisoners in solitary confinement take part in a group therapy session at California's San Quentin state prison on June 8, 2012. | (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

An inmate builds a chair for Pope Francis at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 7, 2015. The pope visited the facility on Sept. 27. | (REUTERS/Mark Makela)

Inmates exercise at the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino on June 3, 2011. | (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Inmate Kareem Muhammad looks at his daughter during a special Father's Day visit, part of the "Get On The Bus" program at California Men's Colony, in San Luis Obispo on May 30, 2015. | (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

An inmate looks out from his cell in the Security Housing Unit at Corcoran State Prison in Corcoran, California, on Oct. 1, 2013. The prison was the first in the state with a separate facility built especially for some of its most dangerous prisoners. | (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)