Jail reforms itself from among worst.

The number of rapes and other violent crimes at Shelby County Jail in Memphis, Tenn., was at such a high level that the U.S. Department of Justice issued a letter saying the conditions at the jail violated detainees’ constitutional rights. If the jail didn’t fix these violations, the justice department would sue. That was in 2002. Today, the jail is among the 4 percent of the nation’s more than 3,200 jails to earn national accreditation with the American Correctional Association. “We knew what we had to do, and we agreed with the department of justice that we had a problem,” said jail Director James E. Coleman, who was hired as an assistant chief one year prior to the warning.