NOTE: this is not satire. “The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill that includes a proposal to pay residents a stipend not to commit crimes,” the AP reports. “It’s based on a program in Richmond, California, that advocates say has contributed to deep reductions in crime there.” How deep is D.C.’s hoplohobic love? This deep . . .
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.
The bill doesn’t specify the value of the stipends, but participants in the California program receive up to $9,000 [each] 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.”
About these “deep reductions.” There is no evidence that Richmond’s “pay a criminal” program is responsible for the city’s dropping homicide rate. Which only looks impressive when you consider percentages, rather than actual homicides. Here’s the raw data from 2001 to 2013 (the last known account) from city-data.com:
In January 2014, contracostatimes.com headlined this info under: Richmond reports lowest homicide total in 33 years, credits multi pronged efforts.
The decline in homicides and overall crime — Richmond has not had more than 26 homicides in any year since 2009 — can be attributed to a range of factors, law enforcement and anti-violence officials say, including better police-community relations, improved youth-outreach programs and changing demographics.
Despite the fact that Richmond’s “pay not to kill” program was launched in 2007, the contracostatimes.com article makes no mention of the initiative in its investigation of the city’s dropping homicide rate. Also note: as the program doesn’t work with law enforcement, there’s no way to trace results.
In a highly, rightly skeptical article about Richmond’s program (well worth a read), Mother Jones (yes them) included this aside.
FOR NOW, NO ONE CAN DEFINITIVELY SAY whether Richmond’s program is a model, a fluke, or something in between. “We’re not doing the evaluations we should be doing; we’re not bringing in objective people to look at it,” UC-Berkeley’s Krisberg admits.
In other words, there is no scientific data supporting the assertion that paying criminals not to shoot people stops people shooting people. Besides that, the morality of this effort is non-existent. Who’s to say that rewarding young people who excel in school wouldn’t be a better idea? D.C.’s PC pols, that’s who. [h/t jr wmaq]