Correction to This Article
A July 10 Style article about former inmate Kenneth Glover incorrectly identified the organization that runs a carpentry program in which he was enrolled. It is the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., not the Amalgamated Builders and Contractors.

Work Zone

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 10, 2005

The life of Kenneth "Boo" Glover started with broken glass and a fistfight, and then it got worse.

As an infant, he was abducted by his father in the bitterness of divorce. His mother, Barbara Jean Glover -- lean, gravel-voiced, hard-knuckled, of East Capitol and 58th streets -- found her child at her mother-in-law's house. She shattered the glass front door, knocked the woman down, kicked her in the face, punched out two of her teeth and walked out with her baby boy.

Broken glass, broken teeth, broken family.

It was 1968. You could find a lot of broken things that year. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death in Memphis. Riots ripped black Washington apart and nearly 1,000 stores were torched. A dozen people were killed. Resurrection City, the idealistic tent city set up on the Mall by King's people, collapsed into squalor and disarray.

Broken city, broken dreams, broken lives.

Like a lot of young men in the rougher parts of D.C., Kenny Glover grew up hard and he grew up mean. He was on the front end of a generation of young men who, in their early twenties, would turn the city into the deadliest in America. Carnage and cocaine and R.I.P.s spray-painted in derelict alleys. The effects were devastating and well documented -- today, almost half of D.C.'s black men in Glover's generation have some sort of criminal record.

But not everything broken is lost forever, and not all lives lost to prison and violence must remain that way. Sometimes even veteran ex-inmates in the poorest parts of this city, men with almost no skills and no hope, can salvage some part of their lives.

It doesn't make the evening news. There aren't any medals -- you don't get awards for staying out of jail and showing up for work -- but sometimes you don't need medals to recognize what is honorable in a man.

The Rap Sheet Odds

In the days after Barbara Jean Glover brought infant Kenny home, she was young and single and determined, but she had no money. She moved Kenny, whom she called "Boo," and her older daughter, Kim, 12 times in 13 years. The rent money was late or nonexistent. She worked an office job, as a parking lot cashier at Redskins games, anything to stay off welfare.

"I wanted to have five kids," she remembers, "but two was enough."

Kim did fine. Kenny started smoking dope when he was 11.

He broke into an elementary school in Southeast that year with a white kid. They were seen. Even Kenny would later say, how dumb was that? How many white kids were there in all of Southeast to even be a suspect? The kid gave Kenny up in a heartbeat, and here came the police while Kenny was at baseball practice.

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