California cities experiment with cash incentives to reduce gun crimes

in September 16th, 2021
SF-cash-for-criminals

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As gun violence increases across the U.S., San Francisco is responding with a unique approach: paying people to not commit crimes. The city’s Dream Keeper Fellowship pilot program launches next month with 10 “at-risk” participants. Candidates will undergo an intensive process including an interview, referral, and assessment process to ensure each is ready to make a change to a crime-free lifestyle.

In exchange, participants will be paid $300 monthly stipend with the opportunity to earn up to $200 more by reaching milestones such as landing a job interview or regularly meeting with their assigned mentor. Critics claim the program is handing out cash to criminals, but advocates argue otherwise, saying it will:

  • Address the root cause of criminality and prevent gun crime in the future. Richmond, CA has had a similar program in place since 2010 where gun homicides decreased 55% and shootings 43% over a 10-year period.
  • Save taxpayer money by reducing prison spending and instead transitioning dollars into neighborhoods of color that are disproportionately affected by gun violence.

Some hope the program will address the city’s “ghost gun” problem, aka guns that can be bought and built without a background check. Ghost guns are increasingly involved in murders, assaults, and other violent crimes. San Francisco police have seized 164 ghost guns in 2020 alone. The city is even suing three California companies — Blackhawk Manufacturing Group, GS Performance, and MDX Corp — for making and distributing such guns to California residents.

Overall, other versions of guaranteed income programs have seen success across the country, with studies showing that the funds are primarily used for transportation, food, and bills. Minimizing these cost barriers helps increase possibilities in employment by simply giving people a means to commute to a job.

🎬 Take Action 

Want to see if your city is considering a guaranteed income program? The Mayors for a Guaranteed Income lists resources for every city working to implement.

Resource Center:

  • NBC Bay Area (Where we found this story) 2 weeks old | 3 minutes long
  • The Crime Report Details of the program 2 weeks old  | 7 minutes long
  • CBS SF Bay Area SF mayor’s plans for the program 2 weeks old | 4 minutes long
  • RCF Connects Success of Richmond program 1 month old | 2 minutes long
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Art Credit: ASCII.CO.UK

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