Democrat-run inner cities across the United States are ensnared by progressive crime waves and yet local governments continue to institute progressive policies that are making crime pay - literally.
A story recently appeared in The Washington Post about a city just north of San Francisco - Richmond, California - that is paying violent criminals to stop committing crimes. One such criminal is 21-year-old Lonnie Holmes who has been involved in drive-by shootings and other gun crimes. The story indicates that once Holmes was released from prison last year, the city approached him with an offer to pay him "as much as $1,000 a month not to commit another gun crime."
Not only does Richmond pay its criminals, it is also paying its ex-convicts to be mentors to other violent offenders as a way to encourage them not to murder. From The Post:
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. The 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.
These "city-paid mentors" generally operate apart from the police, the report states. And to maintain trust between them and the violent criminals, oftentimes they withhold information from the police. "At least twice," the report explains, "that may have allowed suspected killers in the stipend program to evade responsibility for homicides."
Now, other cities want to model Richmond's "unconventional" methods, from Miami, to Toledo, to Baltimore. First up, however, is Washington D.C. ,hoping to reduce its abysmal homicide rate and match the "success" of Richmond. From the report, it appears that most of the criminals are doing much better than the city's victims:
[F]ive years into Richmond’s multimillion-dollar experiment, 84 of 88 young men who have participated in the program remain alive, and 4 in 5 have not been suspected of another gun crime or suffered a bullet wound, according to DeVone Boggan, founder of the Richmond effort.
Here is how Boggan's plan works:
- Criminals drafted into the program create a "life map" with goals.
- They meet with psychologists or sociologist, but don't know that fact, to "talk through issues." (called "stealth therapy")
- If they stay in for six months, and attend the mentor meetings regularly, they are paid monthly -- between $1 and $1,000.
- Maximum amount paid is $9,000 over the 18-month fellowship, The Post states.
According to Boggan, the program pays out $70,000 per year, on average.
Boggan also pairs the criminal with somebody they've tried to kill or someone whose tried to kill them and they all travel somewhere out of the city, and even out of the country.
“Wild, right?” Boggan says to The Post. “But they get out there and realize, ‘Hey, this cat’s just like me.’"
So, how does Holmes spend his money-for-not-being-a-criminal? He is leasing a 2015 Nissan Versa for $500 a month and drives around smoking marijuana. To help pay for his new expenses, Holmes is applying to become an Uber driver.
But what is really happening inside this program? Mentioned in the report is the fact that four of the "fellows" in the program have died since 2010, two of them killed by other fellows. "The suspected killers have not been charged and remain in the program," The Post notes. In addition, twenty fellows are currently in jail over violating their parole and continuing to carry guns.
As for the City of Richmond, 2014 saw a record low for homicides -- only 11. But that number since doubled in 2015 and is expected to easily reach that again this year.
Now THAT'S progressive.