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Color me surprised. Our good friends at Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-gun agitprop machine report that Feds Say One of Chicago’s Last ‘Violence Interrupters’ Was Really a Gang Leader. Don’t get me wrong. I’m surprised by The Trace’s coverage, not the story.

We’ve been highlighting the insanity of paying convicted criminals huge salaries to stop convicted criminals from shooting one another (and others) for years. Baltimore “Violence Interrupters” Caught Dealing Drugs, Possessing Illegal Guns, for example. And New York City Paying $12.7m to Unaccountable Felons to Curb “Gun Violence”.

It’s such a ridiculous concept, so fundamentally corrupt and ineffective, that even The Trace has been forced to take note . . .

Francisco Sanchez said his days as a gang leader on Chicago’s West Side were over.

At 50, he said he had seen numerous lives ruined by violence — young people losing the best years of their lives to prison; children left without parents in the name of petty disputes and turf wars. That’s why he became something else: a leader in an organization committed to ending gun violence.

But last week, federal prosecutors charged that Sanchez’s redemption had been a sham. They said that at the same time Sanchez was moonlighting as a supervisor at CeaseFire Illinois, he was heading up one of Chicago’s most violent street gangs, the Gangster Two-Six Nation.

Get this: The Trace feels so chastened they link to a previous story lauding Mr. Sanchez’ work to reduce “gun violence.” And write “The arrest of one of the chapter’s highest-profile remaining workers renews questions about whether using ex-gang members and felons as outreach workers is worth the risks associated with doing so.” (Hint: it isn’t.)

Of course, in the current piece, writer Ann Givens feels obliged — or was obliged — to include a defense of violence interrupters programs.

Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who is studying the effectiveness of Cure Violence, said it is unfair to argue that the arrest of an outreach worker means that the entire program should be disbanded.

“Everyone loves to jump on this story every time,” Butts said. “We never do that when a police officer shoots an innocent person. We may say, ‘We should be more careful who we hire,’ or ‘We need to train people better,’ but we never say ‘We should stop having police officers patrol our streets.’”

Butts also pointed out that the very thing that makes Cure Violence effective requires that it employ people with gang and criminal histories. When a member of Alcoholics Anonymous goes back to drinking, the validity of the whole program is not questioned, Butts said.

That is perhaps the best possible example of fake moral equivalence I’ve ever encountered. When gang bangers go back to banging people die. The piece ends with a defense of Mr. Sanchez from his defense attorney.

Doherty, Sanchez’s lawyer, said he’s known Sanchez for years. He said that Sanchez has asked him to speak to young people in West Chicago about the horrors of prison, and that Sanchez has done small jobs for him — like delivering documents for $50 a job. No gang chief would need to deliver documents for such a paltry sum, or work for Cure Violence for a salary of about $30,000 a year, Doherty said.

“I think they’ve made a sad error here,” he said.

Someone has, and for once, it ain’t the ATF.

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  1. 30k a year? While that could be useful as a second job, it is hardly “big bucks” living in a big city. What does a new LEO make out of the academy? How about the call outs and overtime?
    I am not saying that this program is worth it, but it is far from the top pay they claim. The truth here is that he probably does care, but the gang life has gotten the better of him and the expensive drugs probably have a hook in him.
    Similiar programs in East L.A. do work. Most of the time the young gang bangers will show some respect to the older bangers from thier area. These guys may have been to prison 2 or 3 times, not to mention the county jail stuff. Even if these guys can show these bangers that they need to back off on some of the implyed insults they might dream up, he is doing part of his job. Getting away from a gang is about as hard as coming back into society for some of these guys. Some have never had a home life, many bounce around with different relatives as children while thier parents are in and out of jail.

    I think that anyone doing paid anti-gang duty like this should get drug tested, but that is just me. For what it is worth, there are many that reach out to the local guys and do not get paid at all. Some will try to get these guys into some kind of a job where they can actually make enough to set up housekeeping with the mother of thier child. The lack of jobs is hurting these kids big time. They bang to survive. They would rather be criminals than work at minimum wage the rest of thier lives. I can’t say that I blame them.

    • There’s the salary and then there’s the money that is supposedly used in benefit of the program. Both are probably being diverted to drugs.

    • Really rt66Paul? You “understand” why they “bang” because they don’t want to work a minimum wage job for their entire lives? With an attitude like that, from someone that is supposed to know better, no wonder “bangers” continue to “bang”.

      Minimum wage jobs are for entry level people with no skills or training. Then, as expected, once they get training and skills in some field of endeavor, they can get an actual good wage.

      And they don’t need a four year degree to get a good wage. I started a business when was I was twenty years old. Chimney sweeping in the winter and window cleaning the rest of the year. I made very good money.

      But the problem is that too many of these “bangers” get no respect for a blue collar job, their just being an “Uncle Tom” and they get no respect for getting an education, their just being “like whitey”.

      Instead, they get more respect for being a “gangsta” than being a law abiding citizen. So blame the “Gansta” culture, not minimum wage jobs. But in the end, it is a choice. Place the blame for what choice an individual makes, on the individual.

    • I think you missed the part where it said he was being indicted for being the LEADER of one of the most violent street gangs in Chicago. His role in the “anti gun violence” group was a cover for other operations ge was running. Maybe it was a way for him to gather intel on other gangs or LE activities that would effect his gang. Maybe the position allowed him to network with affiliate gangs easier, who knows? My point is, if you think he was getting that job to get clean and clear, then you must also believe that members of Congress dont participate in insider trading and that Dianne Feinstein became a multi-billionaire on her senator salary….. don’t be so naive…. I’ve known pleanty of gang bangers who have left the life. It ain’t easy but the common thread was that they made a commitment and stuck with it no matter what. If they needed help, they sought it out. Government force feeding never works.

  2. Wow is it just me or does the trace sound completely dumbfounded on what to think about this?

    On the one hand this is a huge government run program intended to (and apparently failing) to help minorities so they must defend it

    And on the other hand clearly this is not good so they must criticize it

    • When a police officer shot a young black kid wasn’t the left yelling for overhauling of the entire justice system because of its failings?

      Why would the trace claim (in this article) that we shouldn’t call for disbanding the police when someone is shot when the left was ranting and raving about the failings of the entire justice system

      Oh right facts and the trace don’t fit together in the same sentence

  3. My idea of a violence interrupter is a victim shooting the assailant and saving us a shitload of money and trouble.

    • It’s almost as if Chicago’s politicians are being extorted…or blackmailed by these gang bangers.
      Given that there are inherent political liabilities involved in being officially associated with criminals, and that said politicians seem to evince little real interest in stemming the violence in the city, one can’t be blamed for wondering if these ‘interuptor’ jobs aren’t actually a clever way of using taxpayer funds to pay off these criminals, while simultaneously lending them both cover and legitimacy.

      It’s a cynical view to be sure, but it also seems a more elegant explanation to the known facts than the alternative: a politically hazardous and dubiously efficious violence interuptor program suddenly springing forth for misguided but entirely altruistic reasons in a city seemingly disinterested in its appalling violence problem.

  4. It’s funny that people never seem to learn this about criminals. Shit, whitey bulger grifted the whole FBI in the same way. You can’t take the con out of convict.

  5. I say we amend that ages old addage.

    “Even a stopped clock performs it’s intended, advertised function twice a day.”

  6. Having tried arming known violent, criminal people to “stop violence” how about the breaking-wind city tries arming non-violent, non-criminals and seeing what will happen. Or even let them arm themselves.

    Naaaah. That’s crazy talk.

  7. Operation Cease Fire works.

    Some crooks stay crooked. Some don’t. Some addicts stay clean some don’t.
    Corruption doesn’t prove the ineffectiveness of any agency.
    Clean out the corruption.
    Many school systems have two administrators for each student. That’s corruption.

    But really right here on TTAG appears outrage that all gun owners are lumped with the few irresponsible. We should watch it.

    • I don’t think the argument follows. Operation Cease Fire would be unnecessary if the appropriate sanctions were meted out by the criminal justice system. This pretense that violent, dishonest criminals are somehow suited to preventing the sort of crimes they themselves engage in is ludicrous.
      There is a reason probationers and parolees are admonished to avoid associating with other criminals, and the best indicators of future performance is past performance.

      The whole concept seems rife for abuse, corrupt on its face, and reeks of coddling, collusion, or both.

      This isn’t so much condemning the whole program for the misdeeds of a few, but rather condemning the program for its wasteful, unnecessary nature and overtones of corruption.

  8. “When a member of Alcoholics Anonymous goes back to drinking, the validity of the whole program is not questioned, Butts said.”
    No, but if an AA counselor was cause selling booze at meeting there would be some questions to ask.


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