A<span>nne Kenner worked</span> for many years as a federal prosecutor, first in the Eastern District of New York, and then in the Northern District of California, trying mobsters and drug dealers. “I like the hairy edge,” she told me. Her job was meaningful to her; it made her feel useful. When she became disturbed by the powerlessness of some of the young people caught up in the system, she developed a curriculum to help students understand their rights if they came into contact with law enforcement: Here’s what to do if the police stop you; here’s what to do if a cop asks to look inside your backpack.
A turning point in Kenner’s life came when she was in her 50s. Her brother, who had been troubled since childhood, shot and killed himself. They’d had a difficult relationship when they were kids, and she hadn’t spoken with him in 33 years. He had cut off almost all contact with her family decades earlier, as his life spiraled into reclusive paranoia. Still, she told me, his death “was a massively tumultuous experience. I wanted to understand why I was knocked sideways personally.”