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How one Baltimore journalist saved an inmate turned playwright from a lonely prison death

How one Baltimore journalist saved an inmate turned playwright from a lonely prison death

Mike Bowler, newspaper man for over 30 years, most of them with The Baltimore Sun, died the other day. There were tributes galore, especially for his work on education, both as a journalist for The Sun and as a Baltimore County school board appointment of Gov. Martin O’Malley. I remember, though, a less-known tale: Mike Bowler saved a man from a lonely death in prison.

As head of The Evening Sun’s op-ed page, Mike had made the unusual choice of publishing submissions from a certain Harry B. “H.B.” Johnson Jr. They were mailed in from the Maryland Penitentiary, then the oldest continuously operating penitentiary in the western world. It had first opened its doors (shut them?) in...

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