October 28, 2016
BALTIMORE — James Branch’s life seemed destined to follow a familiar arc in the streets that surround the Marlin Steel factory, where he bends metal from sunrise until near dark.
He fathered a child while in high school, dropped out, then spent a dozen years selling drugs. He went to prison and, afterward, squatted in abandoned houses in West Baltimore. He worked the fryer at Popeyes and fought the temptation to go back to dealing on street corners that many Americans will know from the television series “The Wire.”