Should Cities Pay Criminals to Not Commit Crimes?

Article/Op-Ed in Time
April 13, 2016

Monica Potts wrote for TIME about mentoring and paying at risk youth for not committing crimes:

For the past five years, Richmond, Calif., has identified the young men (and they’re mostly men) most at risk of either being killed or killing someone themselves, convinced them to join a mentorship program, and paid them not to commit crimes. The program has been widely reported on, and a handful of other cities are considering following Richmond’s lead. Last month, the city council in Washington, D.C., which saw a 54% increase in homicides last year, voted unanimously in favor of a similar policy, though it remains to be seen whether D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will implement it.

Mayor Bowser opposes the plan because, among other reasons, it’s never been studied rigorously in a controlled experiment. Officials in Richmond, which is just north of Berkeley, Calif., and across the bay from San Francisco, have attributed the city’s halved murder rate to the program, called the Operation Peacekeeper Fellowship, but critics argue there is no way to know whether the drop is the result of the program or other, unstudied factors.