Kenneth Leon

Visiting Assistant Professor
409 O
Phillips Hall
801 22nd. St. NW
Washington, District Of Columbia 20052
United States
[email protected]

Areas of Expertise

Sociology of Law; Legal Philosophy; Crimes of the Powerful; Vice regulation; White-collar Crime; Transnational Organized Crime

Kenneth Sebastian Leon is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Interim Director of the Law & Society Minor in the GW Department of Sociology. He holds a PhD in Justice, Law, and Criminology from the School of Public Affairs at American University, and specializes in white-collar crime, sociolegal studies, vice regulation, and corruption.

Previously, he was a research contractor at the National Institute of Justice, contributing to the portfolios on human trafficking and transnational organized crime.

His interdisciplinary research interests are centered around the sociological tradition associated with C. Wright Mills, and he considers himself to be a lifelong student of the political, economic, and intersectional dimensions of power as it is found in – and reinforced by – the law.

Trained and experienced in applying both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, some of Ken’s previous work includes:

  • Interviewing gang members as part of an NIJ-funded study assessing the transnational capacity of MS-13 in the U.S. and El Salvador;
  • Interviewing the General of the Colombian National Police and other high-ranking officials as part of a grant-funded evaluation of the MNVCC ‘Plan Cuadrantes’ policing model;
  • Conducting physical observations in the street segments of Baltimore that have the highest homicide and drug-related offense rates;
  • Using quantile and logistic regression to supplement NSF-funded interviews of federal judges as part of a study on the relationship between local legal culture and the federal death penalty.

As a law & society scholar, he’d like all undergraduate students – regardless of their primary field of study – to learn more about the GW Law & Society Minor.


PhD American University, 2017

MA George Washington University, 2013

BS magna cum laude, Florida State University, 2011


Gould, Jon and Kenneth Leon. 2017. A Culture that is Hard to Defend: Extralegal Factors in the Defense of Federal Death Penalty Cases. Forthcoming in Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology. 

Leon, Kenneth and Ivy Ken. 2017. Food Fraud and the Partnership for a ‘Healthier’ America: A Case Study in State-Corporate Crime. Critical Criminology

Leon, Kenneth and Daniel Martinez. 2016. To Study, to Party, or Both? Assessing Risk Factors non Non-Prescribed Stimulant Use Among Middle and High School Students. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 49(1): 22-30.

Leon, Kenneth and Ronald Weitzer. 2015. Marijuana Legalization: Comparing Recent Ballot Initiatives. In J. Hill and N. Mario (ed.) Legalizing a crime: Marijuana policies across America. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

Leon, Kenneth and Ronald Weitzer. 2014. “Legalizing Marijuana: Comparing Ballot Outcomes in Four States.” Journal of Qualitative Criminal Justice & Criminology 2(2): 193-218.

Classes Taught

Undergraduate Courses: 

SOC 1002 - The Sociological Imagination 

SOC 1003 - Introduction to Criminal Justice 

SOC 2136 - Criminology 

SOC 2189 - Special Topics: Criminal Justice Reform