News & Politics

Cities Find New Way to Fight Crime: Paying Criminals Not to Kill

Liberals in several cities across the country have found an infuriatingly insane new way to waste taxpayer money. City officials in Richmond, CA, are paying criminals as much as $1000 a month not to commit gun crimes, and the District of Columbia and other cities are moving to adopt the same policy because “early indications” show that paying people not to commit crimes helps reduce crime rates. Because criminals are less inclined to rob the liqour store when the government is willing to pay them to not rob the liquor store.

No, this isn’t The Onion. It’s the Washington Post.

Meet Lonnie Holmes, 21, a man who was on a fast-track to prison — “the next person to kill or be killed” in Richmond, a working-class suburb north of San Francisco.

Four of his cousins had died in shootings. He was a passenger in a car involved in a drive-by shooting, police said. And he was arrested for carrying a loaded gun.

But when Holmes was released from prison last year, officials in this city offered something unusual to try to keep him alive: money. They began paying Holmes as much as $1,000 a month not to commit another gun crime.

Cities across the country, beginning with the District of Columbia, are moving to copy Richmond’s controversial approach because early indications show it has helped reduce homicide rates.

But the program requires governments to reject some basic tenets of law enforcement even as it challenges notions of appropriate ways to spend tax dollars.

In Richmond, the city has hired ex-convicts to mentor dozens of its most violent offenders and allows them to take unconventional steps if it means preventing the next homicide.

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.

One would assume that the taxpayer money isn’t being used to buy drugs — that the city-paid mentors are making sure that the program isn’t being abused — but of course, one would be wrong.

When Sam Vaughn, one of the mentors, spotted Holmes in his new 2015 Nissan Versa, Holmes rolled down his window and a “cloud of marijuana smoke escaped into the rainy morning.”

Holmes now “spends hours each day in the car, driving around with friends, often smoking pot….” But the good news is, he’s not “hunting” — which is Vaughn’s term for looking for fights with rival gang members — and he has applied to become an Uber driver.

Vaughn argues that money from the program “has helped Holmes stay straight.”

“The money is a big part,” Holmes says. “I can’t count the number of times it has kept me from . . . doing what I’ve got to do. It stopped me from going to hit that liquor [store] or this, you feel me, it’s a relief to not have to go do this and endanger my life for a little income, you feel me?”

Notice how he was only concerned with his own well-being and not with the well-being of his potential victims. Only the money prevented him from robbing the liquor store — from terrorizing strangers. The basic human values that prevent most people — including needy ones — from robbing liquor stores are not at play here. Holmes lacks empathy, remorse, guilt and shame because he’s a sociopath. A $1000 dollar a month stipend isn’t going to fix that. The program is based on the belief that the root cause of crime in the inner city is lack of money. But the root causes are the breakdown of families, illegitimacy and the chronic welfare dependency that goes along with it. It is a self-perpetuating system that creates monsters.

After talking to hundreds of street predators, prison psychologist Marlin Neuburn said there is one trait that they have in common: lack of empathy.

They did not have a recognizable conscience, no thoughts of personal responsibility or feelings of guilt or empathy for their victims, nor did they remotely have a grasp of the pain and community destruction they and their “homeboys” caused.

Having the emotional maturity level of a pre-adolescent, ages 8 to 12 inclusive, they act on emotions, not thought. They are completely infantalized due to never being held accountable for their actions. Because of never having been taught delayed gratification and consideration of others, they also live and act on impulse, never thinking of possible consequences.

They are classic narcissists where the world must conform to their impulses or demands.

Enter Big Government with a new program to bribe the street predators it created, with a fistful of taxpayer dollars.

Meanwhile, the would-be liquor store robber spends his days driving around in his new car and smoking joints — courtesy of the the American taxpayer. But at least he’s not murdering people. (Maybe.)

Holmes settles back in the car and picks up a new blunt passed from a buddy in the back seat. He paused before inhaling. “If they do this in D.C., definitely, I think it will keep robberies down,” he said.

As the Washington Post goes on to report, “interest in the program is surging among urban politicians.” Not surprisingly, the ones mentioned in the article all have “Ds” after their names.

Officials in Miami, Toledo, Baltimore and more than a dozen cities in between are studying how to replicate Richmond’s program.

The District of Columbia has whole-heartedly embraced the program.  The city council unanimously approved a bill on Feb. 2 which includes a proposal to pay residents to not break the law

When the “at risk youth” enter the program, they “receive monthly payments between $1 and $1,000, depending on their level of participation.” The maximum amount they can be paid is $9,000 over the 18-month fellowship. The program is credited with cutting Richmond’s homicide rate in half, but there have been a few glitches. And by glitches, I mean murders.

On a recent day, three of the program’s 20 fellows sat in jail, charged with violating parole restrictions after they gathered with suspected gang members. One of them also was carrying a gun when police descended on the hangout, which means he could face a long term if convicted.

There have been worse failures.

Four of the program’s fellows have died since 2010, including two who were killed by other fellows, said Boggan and Vaughn. The suspected killers have not been charged and remain in the program.

“We’ve still got to deal with that fellow,” Vaughn said. “Because who’s to keep him from killing another one . . . ?”

Who’s to keep him from killing again??? Have they suspended the law in Richmond, CA? Why isn’t that “fellow” in jail for murder?

This program seems to be nothing more than a protection racket — and a travesty of justice.

WaPo asked its readers if  D.C. should “pay certain criminals using taxpayer money in hopes that they would avoid violence in the future.”

So far 28% say yes, while 72% say no.