John Jay Prof. Kennedy: A Student Of Street


Newsweek profiles criminologist David Kennedy, described by the magazine as “the only person who has ever come up with a consistently viable (and cost-effective) strategy for helping the inner city with its chronic blight and shame, the dope dealer on the corner.” Kennedy often debunks the cliche image of wealthy young drug dealers who drive luxury cars, live in a mansion and have cash to burn. “This is not true,” Kennedy said at a recent conference. “They’re scraping by, living at home.”

The Newsweek story goes on, “Kennedy is a rail-thin white man with weary eyes, a goatee and hair down his back; he resembles country singer Willie Nelson. He has never been a cop, and, as one friend says, he ‘looks more like a biker than a professor.’ He has no Ph.D. or masters in criminology; he studied philosophy as a Swarthmore undergrad. But in the hotel ballroom packed with police and U.S. Justice Department officials, everyone was listening–Kennedy’s classroom has been the street. As a researcher for Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, he spent years in the rough neighborhoods of cities like Houston, Los Angeles and Boston.” Now 50, Kennedy is a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

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