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California City to Award Stipends — Up to $1K/Month — to Those Deemed Most Likely to Shoot Somebody

A robber enters a store and demands money from the cash register while pointing a gun at the store employee.

A California city is seriously considering a program to pay residents "deemed most likely to shoot somebody," on the premise that paying them will make crime less likely.

Michael Tubbs, mayor of the Bay Area city of Stockton, defended the idea of giving money specifically to the people most likely to shoot others. He would give a stipend of $1,000 per month to those who "stay the course" after an 18-month program.

"Stockton is about to award stipends of up to $1,000 a month to residents deemed most likely to shoot somebody," the Los Angeles Times's Steve Lopez reported. "This program is called Advance Peace, and it's modeled after a crime reduction program in the Bay Area city of Richmond."

For his part, Lopez was skeptical, but perhaps not as skeptical as he should have been. "There's a difference between a vision and a hallucination, and time will tell with Tubbs," the Times reporter wrote. "But I like the young man's mix of rebelliousness, impatience and willingness to take risks."

The "Advance Peace" program certainly would be a risk. "The idea is that a small number of people are responsible for a large percentage of violence, and offering them an alternative path — with counseling and case management over an 18-month period, along with a stipend if they stay the course — can be a good investment all around," Lopez explained.

"Let me be clear, Advance Peace is not a get out of jail free card," Tubbs wrote on Stockton's public safety website. "Participating in this program doesn't erase the past, but it does help these young men learn how to make better choices for their own and our community's collective future."

While Lopez expressed a cautious optimism for the program, he included quotes from local critics. "Obviously, it's a dumb idea," deli operator Robin Luna-Gonzalez said about the Advance Peace program. "Why are we paying criminals?"

Herk Washington, Mayor Tubbs' barber, expressed support for Advance Peace and for a general stipend to guarantee a "basic income" for all residents. He said paying criminals would cost a few dollars, but it might save lives and money.

"Nothing is guaranteed," the barber said. "But to do nothing is worse than to do something."

Are there really no other plans to "do something" to prevent homicide? One could argue that harsh punishments for murder help deter would-be criminals. One of the best arguments for public education revolves around the idea that schools should teach basic morality, instilling a respect for others into the young generation.