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Best Cautionary Tale

Prisoner’s Aid Association of Maryland, Inc.

For 140 years, PAA provided men and women leaving prison with shelter and other services, buoyed by private grants and lots of money from the city, which got most of it from state and federal governments. Then the organization levered-up with $765,000 in loans at 12 percent interest, and it did this as its board members were being indicted—one for stealing $756,000 from a sick child, the other for burning down a house PAA rented because the tenant was his estranged girlfriend. After that, things went downhill quietly, behind the scenes. Even as the city was demanding its money back, bail bondsman “Bishop” Barry Chapman tried to use his rhyming techniques to expand PAA’s reach to other states. Some Baltimore clients ended up homeless, but isn’t that always the way?

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