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In addition to being a time-honored institution, marriage has been a hard-won civil right in America. So can inmates in jail or prison take part in the legal sanctity of marriage?

Good news for jail birds and love birds: In most cases, it is possible for prisoners to legally marry their spouses -- even if they're serving life sentences.

So before you start asking the prison commissary if it carries wedding invitations, check out these legal facts about marriage behind bars:

Being locked up in jail or prison can be pretty inconvenient, especially if you're far away from family members. So can you transfer to a different correctional facility?

Jail or prison transfer requests can be based on a variety of factors, but they're not always granted. Generally, county, state, and federal prisons set their own rules for the administration of the correctional facilities they control.

Here's what you need to know about transferring to a different jail or prison:

How do inmates buy things in jail or prison? Being incarcerated doesn't mean that you stop being a consumer, and almost every penal institution has a commissary system to allow inmates to buy goods.

Whether you're in jail or prison -- and yes there is a difference -- an inmate with some outside funding can purchase food, clothing, and even hobby supplies.

But getting credit to buy things isn't always so easy.

With Christmas and New Year's fast approaching, the millions of Americans currently incarcerated in state or federal prisons will likely be finding ways to celebrate the holidays behind bars.

As an early Christmas present, here are five legal ways to celebrate the holidays in prison:

Obama Commutes Sentences in 8 Crack Cocaine Cases

President Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine crimes.

The president commuted the prisoners' sentences after deciding that their crack cocaine offenses didn't warrant such lengthy prison sentences, The New York Times reports.

It should be noted, however, that commuting a sentence is not exactly the same as receiving a presidential pardon.

Sara Kruzan, a California woman who killed her former pimp as a teenager, is set to be released after originally being sentenced to life in prison.

Kruzan had been serving 25 years to life on a commuted sentence. But a parole board is expected to grant her freedom after serving more than 15 years behind bars, CBS News reports.

Why? It's all because of a new California law regarding juvenile life sentences.

YouTube DUI Confessor Gets 6 Years in Prison

Matthew Cordle, the Ohio man dubbed the "YouTube DUI Confessor," has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison and a lifetime loss of driving privileges for aggravated vehicular homicide.

In his video confession, which has drawn more than 2 million hits on YouTube, Cordle "accept[ed] full responsibility" for his actions and was prepared to face a lengthy prison sentence, reports The Columbus Dispatch.

But will he actually have to serve the full sentence?

Mo. Execution Halted Over Propofol Concerns

Missouri executions will not be carried out by lethal injections via propofol after all. The state was slated to be the first in the country to use the anesthetic in an execution scheduled for October 23.

But on Friday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon halted Allen Nicklasson's execution until the state finds a new drug to use in lethal injections.

The decision came after the drug's German manufacturer said using propofol for executions could lead the European Union to ban the export of the drug to the United States.

Some convicts and people who get arrested (especially celebrities) are placed in a sort of "protective custody" in jail or prison, segregated from the general population. But it's not just TV and movie stars who get this kind of treatment.

Often a person is placed in protective custody because of an increased risk of harm or death from other inmates. In some cases, it is a measure to prevent potential self-harm or suicide.

What exactly is protective custody behind bars, and who gets it?

'Sesame Street' on Parents in Jail: Top 5 Tips

There are more parents in jails and prisons than people might realize. In fact, 1 in 28 children in the United States now has a parent behind bars -- more than the number of kids with a parent who is deployed in the armed forces, according to a Pew report. It's a serious issue, but the topic is rarely broached because of the stigma.

Leave it to "Sesame Street" to tackle a topic that others are too afraid to touch. The show has introduced Alex, a blue-haired and green-nosed character with a hoodie, who is the first Muppet to have a dad in jail, reports Today.com.

Here are five tips for parents behind bars, inspired by the general awesomeness of "Sesame Street" and its "Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration" initiative: