It is with the greatest of sadness that we report that our valued colleague, Mark Kleiman, passed away on Sunday, July 21 from complications after a recent kidney transplant. Mark joined the NYU faculty in 2015 as the inaugural Program Director of the Marron Institute's Crime and Justice Program, Professor of Public Policy at Marron, and Affiliated Faculty at Wagner. Prior to joining NYU, he served as a Professor of Public Policy at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Among his numerous other academic appointments, Mark taught at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, as a Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia Batten School, as the first Thomas C. Schelling Professor at the University of Maryland, and as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. Before joining academia, Mark’s multiple engagements in public policy included serving as a legislative aide to Congressman Les Aspin, as Deputy Director for Management and Director of Program Analysis for the Office of Management and Budget of the City of Boston, and as director of the Office of Policy and Management Analysis in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Kleiman attended Haverford College, and received his M.P.P. and Ph.D. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
We will remember Mark for his intense commitment to the work of criminal justice and drug policy reform. We will dearly miss his wit and incisive analysis. Mark mentored and collaborated with generations of leading academics and researchers. Whether writing alone or in collaboration with others, he leaves behind a rich set of clearly written and rigorously researched books, journal articles, and commentaries. Mark's ideas will live on, captured in his writing, videos, countless media mentions, and through the continued work of the many students, colleagues, and co-authors he influenced over the years.
Mark is survived by his sister, Kelly Kleiman. In accordance with the family’s wishes, donations may be made to the NYU Transplant Institute, the ACLU, or any Democratic candidate. Our thoughts are with Mark's family as well as his many friends and colleagues. When the time is right, we look forward to organizing an event here at NYU to honor Mark and celebrate his life and work.
In the Spring of 2018, Mark gave the Hoffinger Colloquium Lecture at the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at the NYU School of Law: "How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment." Or as Mark described the talk:
Everything I've learned about crime over 40 years, in 60 minutes.
We massively over-punish and haven't gotten much in the way of results. That doesn't prove that punishment doesn't work. It just means we're doing it wrong.
Since Mark himself felt that this lecture was a useful look back at his decades of scholarship and policy analysis in criminal justice, we thought it appropriate to post it here for those who might want to consider some of Mark's many brilliant ideas.
Update: The many remembrances of Mark online and the outpouring of support for his family and friends have been overwhelming. Many thanks to those who took some time to send a positive message. The published tributes to Mark from scholars, policy analysts, and journalists have been remarkable as well. We list a few here:
"RIP Mark Kleiman, a Wonk Whose Work Mattered" by Ed Kilgore in New York Magazine's Intelligencer.
"Remembering Mark Kleiman" written for The American Prospect by Mark's close friend Professor Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago.
"Mark Kleiman Was the Nation's Greatest Thinker on Drug Policy" by UCLA Professor Gabriel Rossman for National Review.
"Remembering Mark Kleiman" by Mark's friend Kevin Drum in Mother Jones.
"RIP Mark Kleiman, Who Brought Rigor, Dispassion, and Candor to a Frequently Overheated Drug Policy Debate" by Jacob Sullum at Reason.
"In Memory of Mark Kleiman" written for Washington Monthly by Mark's close friend and collaborator Professor Keith Humphreys of Stanford University.