That sounds like a pretty good deal, right? Don’t break the law – at least with respect to homicide – and get paid.
That’s exactly what the city of Richmond, CA is doing. It’s called a “controversial experiment.”
Somebody in city government figures out which kids are the most at-risk of becoming murderers and they pay them from $300 to $1,000 per month to have someone else do the killing. Now I’m sure the people who thought this fantastic program up didn’t plan it that way, but I’d bet a dollar or two that’s how it works.
It’s working so well in Richmond that other cities (Baltimore, Miami, Toledo, and a bunch more) are kicking the idea around.
In fact, murders have declined in Richmond from 47 in 2007 to a mere 11 last year. The problem is that the decline can’t be tied to this program. Unemployment is down and the area is being “gentrified” which means that turf which used to be gang turf is being taken over and “modernized” by rich white people who don’t tend to murder as many people as gang members. In addition, other violent crime is pretty much unchanged from 2007.
One good thing the people running the program are doing is – it’s funded it to a large degree with private funds, not public funds. One of the reasons for this is that even in Richmond, outbursts of violence can cause community support to evaporate and funding gets cut. With private funds, there is much less risk for that.
Even if the program works in Richmond, the bigger question is, will it work in Chicago or Baltimore? Chicago has 47 murders a month and Baltimore isn’t far behind. They look like completely different pictures.
So, will this program really work? Maybe. Or could it cause non-gang kids to form gangs to get in on the free lunch? Stranger things have happened, and not much surprises me anymore.
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