The District of Columbia Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill that includes a proposal to pay residents a stipend not to commit crimes. It’s based on a program in Richmond, California, that advocates say has contributed to deep reductions in crime there.
Deep reduction in crime? Criminals no longer have to go out to get other people’s money. It’s handed over to them. They can stay warm in bed.
Under the bill, city officials would identify up to 200 people a year who are considered at risk of either committing or becoming victims of violent crime. Those people would be directed to participate in behavioral therapy and other programs. If they fulfill those obligations and stay out of trouble, they would be paid.
Bribe victims not to be victimized?
And what behavioral therapy does a victim need to not be a victim? If such therapy is known, why can’t we all be treated to it?
Or is just being paid to “stay out of trouble” the magic formula? Sounds good to us.
The bill doesn’t specify the value of the stipends, but participants in the California program receive up to $9,000 per year.
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, a Democrat who wrote the legislation, said it was part of a comprehensive approach to reducing violent crime in the city, which experienced a 54 percent increase in homicides last year. Homicides and violent crime are still down significantly since the 2000s, and even more so since the early 1990s when the District was dubbed the nation’s “murder capital.”
McDuffie argued that spending $9,000 a year in stipends “pales in comparison” to the cost of someone being victimized, along with the costs of incarcerating the offender.
“I want to prevent violent crime — particularly gun violence — by addressing the root causes and creating opportunities for people, particularly those individuals who are at the highest risks of offending,” McDuffie, a former prosecutor, said in a letter to constituents last week.
How is the paying of protection money “addressing the root causes” of crime?
Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has not committed to funding the program, which would cost $4.9 million over four years, including $460,000 a year in stipend payments, according to the District’s independent chief financial officer. Without the mayor’s support, it would be up to the Council to find money for it through new taxes or cuts to existing programs.
The program would be run independently of the police department, and participants would remain anonymous. Its goal would be to recruit people who are at risk of violence but don’t have criminal cases pending.
In Richmond, 79 percent of “fellows” participating in the program have not been suspected of involvement in any gun crimes since joining the program, and 84 percent have not been injured by gunfire, the program’s executive director, DeVone Boggan, said in a report to the Council.
Richmond experienced a 77 percent drop in homicides between 2007, when the program was launched, and 2014, although how much can be specifically attributed to the stipends is unclear.
So why doesn’t everyone in Richmond and Washington, D.C. promise their local councils that they won’t commit a crime if they are paid $9,000 a year? Perhaps they could get double by promising not to commit a crime or be a victim.
Why doesn’t the whole country adopt the pleasant idea of this duffer. Be the richer for it – and free of crime forever?
Okay, so its not enough to retire on. You can keep your day job. Just think of the stipend as a gift. A little extra pocket money.
Up for it, Everyone?