I got a couple of things rattling around my noggin this morning.
First, do you know David Kennedy, the criminologist? Few are on the frontier of ethnographical research and American gangs like Kennedy. For years he has argued against the persistent image of gang-leaders as rich pimp-daddies rolling the high-life in their BMWs. Kennedy’s proof comes from the fact that he’s actually “lived” with gang members in cities like Boston, Houston and Los Angeles. He’s seen proof that gang-bangers are struggle day-to-day just to make ends meet, often living with their parents, and would rather drop out of the drug culture if only given the opportunity to do something else. In an experiment in High Point, North Carolina in cooperation with the local police Kennedy did just that, allowing gang members to retool with good jobs in society. The result was a 57% drop in violent crime in that area.
Kennedy working the streets (but I could have sworn it was Walter Becker)
Kennedy is one of a few Gonzo-criminologists in America. He has no PhD, was left alone for years to do research at the Kennedy School of Government – because they knew he was brilliant – and now “teaches” Criminal Justice at New York’s John Jay College (really what he does is run around the country helping urban police forces who are eager to work with him.). There’s a nice profile of Kennedy in Tuesday’s Newsweek.