A suburb in San Francisco, USA, is testing a controversial strategy to combat gun violence plaguing the community. It is planning to pay people not to commit crimes.
The experiment known as “Advance Peace” is being conducted in Richmond, California, and works like this: The 18-month fellowship hires convicted felons to “court” troubled youth who so far have avoided arrest due to lack of evidence, then they are offered cash and out-of-town vacations if they mend their ways.
If, after six months, a “fellow” in the voluntary program begins to achieve specific goals, they can earn up to $1,000 a month.
That doesn’t sit well with victims’ rights activist Lorrain Taylor, whose twin sons were gunned down in the nearby city of Oakland when they were just 22.
“If I were to find out that the guy who murdered my twin sons was getting a thousand dollars for a promise? I mean, how can you trust? … I mean, if they kill somebody, they will lie,” Taylor said.
Supporters of the program say the money, which comes from private donations, is like an allowance that many American parents give their children as a reward for hard work and argue daily that intensive engagement is the only way to disrupt urban gun violence.
But critics say the Advance Peace program sends a bad message, and that if anyone should get money or trips, it should be the victims of violence.