"Our theory of change is simple: I want them to desire to live."
June 9, 2014 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Formerly one of the most dangerous cities in America, Richmond CA reports its lowest homicide rate in 33 years, thanks in part to a program which provides counseling and stipends to the young men most likely to commit violent crimes.
posted by Wavelet (31 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Philadelphia has had a program like this for 15 years. Make of that what you will.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:18 PM on June 9, 2014


What the hell kind of civilization do we have when paying thugs to behave seems reasonable?
posted by codswallop at 1:37 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


One that demonstrates in a really stark way the link between poverty and violence?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:40 PM on June 9, 2014 [77 favorites]


In the kind of civilization where we make policy decisions based on evidence, rather than outrage.
posted by mercredi at 1:41 PM on June 9, 2014 [52 favorites]


codswallop: What the hell kind of civilization do we have when paying thugs to behave seems reasonable?

A civilization where a lot of people have no opportunity at all.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:41 PM on June 9, 2014 [20 favorites]


paying thugs to behave

Fox is hiring.
posted by stbalbach at 1:42 PM on June 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


Figuring out which programs and tactics work is hard in an environment where crime rates are dropping, hard, fir other reasons anyway, so no matter what you're doing it seems to work.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:42 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't see it as paying them to behave, I see it as giving them other options in life. Seems reasonable to me.
posted by billiebee at 1:43 PM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


So as not to abuse the edit window I'd like to clarify that by "them" I didn't mean "thugs", I meant "people".
posted by billiebee at 1:45 PM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


What the hell kind of civilization do we have when paying thugs to behave seems reasonable?

One where investing resources into treating people as human is seen as a waste of money.

I am so, so glad to see this article.
posted by lokta at 1:53 PM on June 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


There's plenty of natural negative controls where these programs aren't being implemented; seems like some you could do some t-tests or something. According to the link provided by stupidsexyFlanders (nice!) a similar program in two Philadelphia districts showed a significant drop in violent crime over ten years relative to citywide data. All of which is just to say that yes, it's hard to figure out what's working when violent crimes are dropping in the area in general, but the rates are probably going to be informative.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 1:55 PM on June 9, 2014


hey if it works, it works. $1000 a month is much better than the $3000 a month it would cost to lock them up (this number based on the idea in my head that it costs $30,000/year/prisoner)
posted by rebent at 1:55 PM on June 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


What the hell kind of civilization do we have when paying thugs to behave seems reasonable?


Let's see here...

incentive-based outreach has achieved what decades of heavy-handed law enforcement did not. ... “We are helping to create the conditions for their success,” ... Richmond is on its way to eliminating gun violence entirely.

How awful.
posted by entropone at 1:57 PM on June 9, 2014 [10 favorites]


Why, why will nobody listen to time-tested wisdom?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure... oh that's why. People can make more money on the cure.

Sigh.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:58 PM on June 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


On a less simplistic note - using incentive structures to change behavior is basically what governments do. We financially incentivize all sorts of rich people behavior through tax breaks. We negatively disincentivize other behavior through fines and prison time.

This is not new - it's just the idea of using reward, rather than punishment, to change behavior. (Something we are completely willing to do in other contexts.)
posted by mercredi at 2:07 PM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Let's see, from the graph it was 15 in 1980. Mumble-mumble-mumble Reagan/Bush Sr. It was 61 in 1990. Mumble-mumble-mumble Clinton. It was 19 in 2001. Mumble-mumble-mumble Bush, Jr. It was 48 in 2009. Mumble-mumble-mumble Obama. It was 16 in 2013.
(Actually you can find national rates doing this same dance, although to be fair, it generally went flatline rather than up during Bush, Jr.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 2:12 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


The article sort of glosses over "demographic changes" as part of the drop in crime ...based on the census the Richmond went from 26.5% hispanic in 2000 to 39.5% hispanic in 2010...maybe that's normal in California but that seems like a pretty big change in just ten years.
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 2:34 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Apparently some people would rather see poor people murder each other than pay a couple of bucks extra on their taxes.

Libertarian Tax Policy: Red in tooth and claw
posted by blue_beetle at 2:42 PM on June 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


Libertarian Tax Policy: Red in tooth and claw

As fffm pointed out, one could even give a libertarian/conservative/whateverlabel argument for these programs (and a variety of others as well -- health care comes to mind): since prevention is less costly than retroactive measures, expenses in general would drop.

Its just that major industries (guns, pharma, hospitals, insurance, whatever) have a bunch of useful idiots and front groups to shout "FREEDOM!" whenever some sensible, humane, fiscally prudent policy comes up that would benefit society as a whole at the expense of those corporations.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:06 PM on June 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


The article sort of glosses over "demographic changes" as part of the drop in crime ...based on the census the Richmond went from 26.5% hispanic in 2000 to 39.5% hispanic in 2010...maybe that's normal in California but that seems like a pretty big change in just ten years.

It's one of the more affordable cities in the Bay Area. The increase could probably be linked to working class Latinos being priced out of other cities. (And if you look at Gary, IN, during its murder capital years a decade or two ago, you'd see a good deal of 'white flight.' I wonder if that's also part of the explanation.)
posted by mudpuppie at 3:17 PM on June 9, 2014


As fffm pointed out, one could even give a libertarian/conservative/whateverlabel argument for these programs (and a variety of others as well -- health care comes to mind): since prevention is less costly than retroactive measures, expenses in general would drop.

Nah. "libertarian/conservative/whateverlabel" types also tend to be very moralistic: the poor are poor because they are stupid and unfit. And why are we "paying thugs to behave" anyway! Think of the moral hazard!

To them the poor are animals to be managed, not people to be helped. And even if it were cheaper to manage the animals this way, they're not going to just hand money to animals.
posted by Sangermaine at 4:56 PM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute" used to guide this country, and now this. It's like pathetic and degenerate are fighting to see which comes out first.
posted by MattD at 5:23 PM on June 9, 2014


"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute"

Why, it's almost as if thinking has moved on in the last two hundred odd years! Attempting to stop crime by prevention rather than punishment - it's truly a world gone topsy-turvy.
posted by billiebee at 5:30 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love the concept (and description) of the trip the two guys took together. I think it's extremely powerful to physically show people whose lives seem very constrained and pre-ordained that there are so many other possibilities out there, and I can only imagine the positive impact such an eye-opening trip would have on the formerly-lethal relationship one had with one's travel partner. Especially at that age.

I was talking to a woman who works with teens in the foster system, and she said, "Think about what we do for kids who are the cream of the crop. We send them to college, an environment where we challenge them to learn new things, but we also provide housing for them, give them laundry facilities, put a peer advisor nearby and assign mentors, provide three meals a day, give them a special police force that protects them against having to deal with the 'real' police -- basically we set them up in a safe, controlled environment with lots of extra support.

"Now think about what we do for kids who aren't so intellectually gifted -- we throw them out of the system when they turn 18, expect them to fend for themselves, and then try them as adults when they get in trouble. Does that make any sense? To think of all that support as natural for kids who have already proven to be responsible, but to see it as 'coddling' or 'a waste of resources' for kids who have proven that they need more help?"
posted by jaguar at 7:18 PM on June 9, 2014 [17 favorites]


What the hell kind of civilization do we have when paying thugs to behave seems reasonable?

Whatever. If someone took you out of your environment and put you into the same one as these "thugs", you'd be doing the same things to survive.

So sure there are thugs. But they aren't born, they are made by their shitty environment. Making the situation even a fractions worth better through cash incentive is more than enough for me to want to stop public funds from reaching golf courses and go to depressed areas instead.

What a great idea!
posted by hal_c_on at 7:35 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's like pathetic and degenerate are fighting to see which comes out first.

I'm betting you're Team Pathetic.
posted by Pudhoho at 7:37 PM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


On a less simplistic note - using incentive structures to change behavior is basically what governments do.

On a simpler note, this was kinda the plot of 'Trading Places' with Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd.

Great movie.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:42 PM on June 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


What the hell kind of civilization do we have when paying thugs to behave seems reasonable?
posted by codswallop at 1:37 PM on June 9


capitalist.
posted by eustatic at 8:07 PM on June 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute" used to guide this country, and now this.

When scaled up to countries, it's called aid.

The program isn't "stop being violent and we'll give you money" it's "here's a wide variety of tools to stop being violent: counseling, a jobs program, and if you stick with the program, finical aid."
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:01 AM on June 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is amazing.
posted by miyabo at 6:21 AM on June 10, 2014


How refreshingly hopeful.
posted by homunculus at 9:59 PM on June 13, 2014


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