California City Pays People to Stay Away From Guns

A novel fellowship program seems to be reducing crime.


City pays high-risk men to stay away from guns

The fatal flaw in the reasoning behind gun-control laws is that criminals by definition don't follow laws. Where there's a will (to get a firearm) there's a way.

So instead of trying to restrict supply, one California city is combating the demand side of things—by paying "several dozen men a monthly stipend between $300 and $700 to stay away from guns," reports Business Insider.

In 2007, the city of Richmond, California, had a murder rate almost ten times that of comparable California cities—45.9 per 100,000 people, vs. 4.7 elsewhere. In response, the city founded the Richmond Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), an organization tasked with "reducing firearm homicides in the city," according to its director, Devone Boggan.

From the Business Insider piece:

This is how the process works: ONS identifies the 50 people in Richmond who are most likely to be involved with guns and establishes a rapport with them in hopes of recruiting them to be a fellow in the program. Once they agree to join, ONS works with the men to establish a "life map" and personal and professional goals. The fellows are paid once a month based on how well they adhere to the goals they set.

The program seems to be working. By 2014, Richmond's homicide rate was down 76 percent. From the article:

According to the evaluation of ONS by [the National Council of Crime and Delinquency], Boggan's approach has yielded positive results for the majority of men involved. Of the 68 fellows to go through the fellowship since it began in earnest in 2009, 64 are still alive (94%), 57 have not since been injured by a firearm (84%), and 54 are not suspected of firearm related activity (79%).

Although the ONS receives part of its funding from the city, the stipends paid out come entirely from private donations. And the program's operating cost, about $25,000 a year for each fellow, pales in comparison to the $267,000 per inmate California spends on incarceration, Boggan says.