When it comes to the most despicable underbelly of American society, cash to the tune of $1000 per month is being slithered to some of the most brazen criminals living in the US today with one simple condition: “don’t kill people.”
Take the case of Lonnie Holmes, 21, who lives in Richmond, a working-class suburb north of San Francisco. He was arrested for carrying a loaded gun. When Holmes was released from prison last year, officials in this city offered something unusual to try to keep him alive: money. They began paying Holmes as much as $1,000 a month not to commit another gun crime.
This is worse than just appeasement: it’s sheer idiocy pure and simple, and it’s only just starting.
According to the WaPo, “cities across the country, beginning with the District of Columbia, are moving to copy Richmond’s controversial approach.”
If readers are shocked by this “modest payment” it is for a good reason: the program requires governments to reject some basic tenets of law enforcement even as it challenges notions of appropriate ways to spend tax dollars.
In Richmond, the city has hired ex-convicts to mentor dozens of its most violent offenders and allows them to take unconventional steps if it means preventing the next homicide. For example, the mentors have coaxed inebriated teenagers threatening violence into city cars, not for a ride to jail but home to sleep it off — sometimes with loaded firearms still in their waistbands. These mentors have funded trips to South Africa, London and Mexico City for rival gang members in the hope that shared experiences and time away from the city streets would ease tensions and “forge new connections.”
And when the elaborate efforts at engagement fail, the mentors still pay those who pledge to improve, even when, like Holmes, they are caught with a gun, or worse — suspected of murder.
The city-paid mentors operate outside law enforcement, at a distance from police. To maintain the trust of the young men they’re guiding, mentors do not inform police of what they know about crimes committed. At least twice, that may have allowed suspected killers in the stipend program to evade responsibility for murders.
And yet, interest in the program is surging among liberal urban politicians. Officials in Miami, Toledo, Baltimore and more than a dozen cities in between are studying how to replicate Richmond’s program.
The District of Columbia is first in line.
Just this month, the D.C. Council unanimously approved the idea as the best response to a surge of violent deaths that rocked the city last year. D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (Democrat-Ward 5) has promised to shift money from the mayor’s other law-enforcement priorities to launch the program. He said the successes in Richmond cannot be ignored by city leaders serious about reducing crime.
Actually it can, because what this program does is shift incentives for ordinary Americans to become extraordinary criminals with hopes of being rewarded by the government for curbing any future outbursts of violent behavior.
But when it comes to nuances such as these, liberal governments rarely pay attention; instead it looks at an isolated case and extrapolates.