Have you ever wondered why we don’t just pay criminals to stop committing crimes? If so, the City of Richmond, California has read your mind and come up with just such a plan. Richmond employs selected ex-cons from nearby San Quentin State Prison, paid by the City, to supervise and pay other convicted criminals not to kill each other; except that they sometimes can’t help themselves and kill each other anyway.
If you’re convicted of a gun crime in Richmond, California, the City may pay you as much as $1,000.00 a month not to commit another gun crime. Ex-convicts paid by the City, not law enforcement officials, select the participants and will monitor your compliance with the program. As the principal sponsor said of his first meeting with ex-cons in the program, the participants “were surprised” when he handed them each a check for $1,000.00 with no strings attached as they left the meeting because, “No cop had ever handed them money without asking for something in return.” Then again, how often does anyone get a check for $1,000.00 from a stranger with no strings attached?
To maintain your trust, the ex-cons who monitor you won’t tell the police about crimes you commit. According to a recent story in the Washington Post, those city paid monitors, “At least twice . . . may have allowed suspected killers in the stipend program to evade responsibility for homicides.”
A travel allowance of $10,000.00 is budgeted for each convict who participates in the program so that they can travel in partnership either with someone they’ve tried to kill or with someone who tried to kill them. Participants have traveled to London, Mexico City and South Africa. The program’s sponsors consider it successful because, “No fellows who have traveled together have been suspected in subsequent shootings against one another.”
Richmond claims that the multi-million dollar experiment is a great success because after five years only 4.5% (4 out of 88) participants are dead; two of them killed by other participants in the program who have not been charged or arrested but remain in the program. Only 20% of the participants have been suspected of another gun crime or suffered a bullet wound during that time.
Other cities are now lining up to consider how best to implement similar plans of their own. Which, of course, raises the question: If it pays to pay convicted criminals to pay and supervise other convicted criminals not to hurt other convicted criminals, could we dispense with law enforcement entirely if the government just paid everyone not to hurt anyone else? Perhaps there would even be money left over for the government to pay for everyone to travel abroad as well!