Gun violence by gang members has become a serious problem for California. In fact, Sacramento is starting to resemble Chicago.
After a fatal shooting over Labor Day weekend, Sacramento City Council members mobilized on a highly controversial scandal to promote a cease-fire. City officials, led by Democrat Mayor Darrell Steinberg, unanimously agreed to pay gang members $1.5 million in stipends to be on their best behavior, according to Fox News.
It’s called the Advance Peace program, and city officials believe it will cure the city’s gun violence by bribing criminals. According to CBS News, the program identifies roughly 50 young men in various gangs (who are largely responsible for most of the city’s gun violence) and offers them a stipend from the $1.5 million to be on their best behavior for four years.
The program is modeled after an allegedly successful program that originated in Richmond, which offers mentorship programs, life coaches, daily check-ins, and other similar efforts to help gangbangers be on their best behavior. They would also be required to meet certain education requirements.
Over four years, if the gang members meet all of the criteria laid out in their contracts, they receive a cash stipend. For 50 participants, that’s $7,500 per year, per gang member.
Supporters of the program point to the “results” of the Richmond program, which alleges to be responsible for a 50 percent decrease in gun violence, and a 54 percent drop in murder rates.
Some are concerned that the program deviates too much from the Richmond program, and that city officials acted too quickly to have noticed any potential pitfalls. One major concern from critics is that the language in the contract is too vague, and could easily be exploited.
Angelique Ashby, City Councilwoman, makes this argument: “There’s nothing in this contract that says they’ll need to work with police or even schools. We have no opportunity to pull out of this contract. None!”
She requested a week delay to make the necessary changes to make the contracts more binding, but Mayor Steinberg quickly denied the request, claiming that there wasn’t time. “One week delay down the line is another gang shooting, another victim, so no,” Steinberg said.
Scott Jones, Sacramento Sheriff, strongly opposed the measure, saying it would do little to help stop gun violence. “I have fundamental objections to this program,” Jones said. “I am against significant taxpayer funding (or any money) being paid to people just to NOT commit crimes or shoot people. They do not engage in law enforcement at all, and I have been told that if they become aware of one of the participants committing crime, they will NOT notify law enforcement.”
Allen Brown, a friend of Ernie Cadena — the shooting victim from Sunday that sparked the vote, criticized the program, citing community involvement as the needed element for change, and not payouts. “How’s the vote going to change anything? It’s up to the community to change. You know what I mean? It’s just senseless,” he said.
The vote was unanimous, with 9-0 in favor of implementing the program as quickly as possible.
Sacramento is going to pay gang members $1.5 million in stipends to be on their best behavior. Is this a good idea?
While it’s understandable that city officials would seek to curb the violence in their cities, paying criminals a cash stipend in exchange for good behavior is a horrible idea. What assurances are there that, after four years, these gangbangers won’t simply resort to violence again — hoping to get additional stipends? What about the gang members who will cash in and simply be more careful about getting caught while under the program?
There’s a reason the United States doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, and that policy should apply to gangs, too.