“goal of the office will be to identify our teenagers and young adults at the highest risk for committing or being a victim of violent crimes, for participation in a stipend based program”

by Prince Of Petworth February 3, 2016 at 10:15 am 176 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Ted Eytan

From Council Member Kenyan McDuffie’s office:

“Today, the Council of the District of Columbia passed, on first reading, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie’s (D-Ward 5) “Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2016 (NEAR Act),” a comprehensive bill that re-calibrates how the District approaches public safety, by not just addressing crime after it occurs, but rather working to prevent crime by treating its root causes in a long-term, sustainable way. The NEAR Act addresses crime in several ways, including using a public health approach that requires the collaboration of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and health and human services agencies.

The NEAR Act will establish an Office of Violence Prevention and Health Equity (OVPHE). The OVPHE is a recognition of the years of research that show that violence is a public health problem. OVPHE will require the city to develop and implement a public health strategy using risk assessment tools, cognitive and family based therapy, and service coordination to combat the spread of violence, including placing clinicians in every hospital’s emergency department to respond to victims of crime immediately and prevent violence from escalating the minute they are brought in.

The NEAR Act also creates an Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE). Based off of the successful Richmond, CA model, the goal of the office will be to identify our teenagers and young adults at the highest risk for committing or being a victim of violent crimes, for participation in a stipend based program involving life planning, trauma­ informed therapy, and mentorship. The program will require its participants to create and execute a successful life­-plan, moving them away from the pitfalls of violent crime. Evidencing the potential success of ONSE, between 2007 and 2014, Richmond experienced a 76% reduction in firearm­ related homicides.

We also know that those impacted by homelessness, mental health disorders, and substance abuse are often in regular contact with the police due to unmet healthcare and housing needs. The NEAR Act establishes a Community Crime Prevention Team Program to pair mental health clinicians and housing outreach specialists from the Department of Behavioral Health and Human Services with police officers to identify individuals in need of assistance and to connect them with wrap-around services.

Finally, the legislation requires MPD to provide yearly training on preventing biased-based profiling; community policing; and the use of force in their mandatory continuing education/training. MPD is also required to collect stop and frisk and use of force data in an effort to promote transparency and improve relations between the police and the community.

“This critical legislation is a step in the right direction and will address the root causes of violent crime in an effective and sustainable way,” said Councilmember Mcduffie. “One homicide in the District is too many. This bill addresses crime no matter where it happens in the District whether on the street, train, or in a home.”

“We know that we can not simply arrest our way out of crime, we have to take bold and innovative steps like those in the NEAR Act to help prevent crime. I thank the residents, advocates, and experts for their active engagement throughout this entire process. We are all in this together.”

  • Rachel

    Enough with these young urban youths getting a pass from the City. I wish we had a mayor and police that were strict and not tolerant of dumb urban youths, ugh they are such parasites

    • AG

      How is this giving them a pass? As far as I can tell, this isn’t an alternative to incarceration or meant as a sort of punishment. It’s meant to prevent crime before it happens. It can’t be the only tool we use, but if it has shown promise in Richmond, why not try it here? These kids aren’t born animals. Crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I agree that there need to be harsher punishments, more enforcement, and more resources put toward fighting crime, but if we can get to these kids before they commit crimes and head down the seemingly irreversible path of criminality, it’s a win-win for everyone with far more effective long-term results than just putting the kids away.

    • Anon

      The Mayor and the police have nothing to do with this. This was created by CM McDuffie and passed by the Council.

    • dunning-kruger

      Where do you think these “dumb urban youths” are going to end up after they get out of prison?
      Pretty much every study on the issue indicates that imprisoning people is the best way to ensure they commit MORE crimes when they get out.
      As another poster mentioned this initiative actually has nothing to do with convicts, it is a proactive holistic approach to crime which in my opinion is the only way to actually reduce crime.

  • Anon

    Here come the outrage posts… 3…2…1.

  • Trinidaddy

    this has to be a joke, right? McDuffie, are you out of your mind?

    • Guillermo Brown

      Why is this so crazy? The plan is good…we’ll see about the execution

      • madmonk28

        Here are the questions I want answered before I decide if this is a good plan, or not:
        1. Who will administer it?
        2. What will be the selection criteria for participation? How will we monitor for corruption in the selection process?
        3. What kind of financial audit system will be in place?
        4. What kind of program audit system will be in place?
        5. How will we determine if the program is a success, or not? What are the performance indicators?
        6. When will we know if it is working or not?

        • LittleBluePenguin

          +1. I think trying something new may be absolutely essential at this point, but I have the same questions and am worried that something that could really improve things is just going to devolve into another DC [email protected]

        • DCNative

          Madmonk your concerns are entirely valid and will not be addressed in any way, shape or form.

          As an example (and likely cognate), the Summer Youth Employment Program pays its participants by handing out pre-loaded cash cards that are not even serially assigned to individual participants. It is a literal pile of unaccounted money.

          Anyone with any experience in fraud/audit/internal control can tell you that any system with such a high potential for abuse was surely designed to be that easily abused. The potential for fraud is actually the intent of the program. Just give away money with no accountability, and you’ll likely be reelected. Barry did it for over 30 years.

      • jeff

        Paying people NOT to commit crime.

        This plan is idiotic at best.

        • dunning-kruger

          That’s a gross oversimplification.
          Its easy to call things idiotic when you misrepresent them.

          • Anon

            I disagree with your assessment, d-k. You have to actually understand something before you can actively misrepresent it. :-)

  • Shaw_Resident

    Is this an Onion article? This has to be fake, right?

    “We think you are at high risk for committing a crime. If you don’t commit one we will give you a stipend!”

    • MMMkay

      “Evidencing the potential success of ONSE, between 2007 and 2014, Richmond experienced a 76% reduction in firearm­ related homicides.”

      Hey, if it works, it works!

      • anon

        The benefits of careful reading. Notice that McDuffie ONLY points to “firearm-related homicides.” If you look up other crime stats for Richmond, CA the record is decidedly mixed. Robberies drifted downward after 2007 but were back up to 407 in 2013 (492 in 2007). Assaults have increased over the same period, as have burglaries. As I have said many times, the DC council and MPD are hell-bent on trying to get their murder figures down but don’t give a damn about street crime and metro assaults, and this program is all about attacking the former and doing nothing about the latter. They will pay extremely dangerous people not to shoot anyone, but this program will not target teen street thugs.

    • alexw

      I was the victim of an attempted robbery in 2014. The guy was caught and sentenced to over 22 months in jail. Literally that one person just cost tax payers ~2 years in jail, court costs, loss of income tax revenue. How much is that? Maybe $100k?

      Stipends to prevent crime might be cheaper for tax payers IF the program works.

  • shmoo

    It will be interesting to see if this works in dc. I remember a This American Life episode from a little while back that talked about the program in California. Curious if the successes can be replicated in a city like DC. I hope it can. I like that the city is trying something different that has been at least proven to work in another jurisdiction.

    • Nicole

      I remember the same episode, and looked into it further (I work in criminal justice)… it had great success in CA, so hopefully it will be effective here!

    • sb


    • TAL

      Yes, I also posted this down thread, but here is the link to that episode, the segment is call “Crime Pays.”

      Everyone having knee-jerk reactions should take a listen. These are freaking complicated problems that need innovative and creative solutions.

    • Sir Edmund Hillary

      I recently attended TEDMED where Sam Vaughn (one of the folks profiled in the American Life piece) spoke. Once his talk becomes publically available, those who are interested in this topic and approach should give his talk a watch. He gave a very compelling talk and the results in his city are nothing short of remarkable. In fact I found his talk to be among the best ones at the 3 day event. Link to his profile, and his eventual talk can be found at: http://www.tedmed.com/speakers/show?id=526379

  • java

    This is ridiculous. Time to look for someone to run against Bowser. We won’t be voting for her. And on another topic – can’t believe that McDuffy and Mendelson (spelling) voted down the amendment to increase punishment for crimes committed on the metro. Are you kidding me? These guys need to be voted out as well.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I would have voted against the bill to increase punishment for crimes committed on metro as well. I’ve been a victim of crime twice in DC, both times on the sidewalk. On what basis is a crime committed on a subway more worthy of punishment than a crime committed on a sidewalk?

      • CRT

        The basis that the region cannot function without public transit and everything will grind to a halt if/when more and more people choose to drive because Metro is so abysmal. But if you want to raise punishments for all violent crimes in DC, I’m fine with that too.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I will note that both times that I was a victim of a crime on a sidewalk, I was walking home from the Metro. Thus, assuming for the sake of argument that it would achieve its goals–there is no evidence of that, but I’ll play along for now–from the standpoint of the safety of my transit trip from my home to my destination and back to my home, legislation such as this would protect somebody who lives and works closer to metro (for the most part, wealthier people) more than it would protect somebody who lives and works further from the metro (less wealthy people). It might even have the effect of pushing these attacks onto the sidewalks a few blocks from metro stations, i.e., it might make me less safe in attempt to make you [feel] safer.

    • DG

      The reasons for not increasing penalties for crimes on Metro are (a) it is proven that increasing penalties does not lower crime; (b) even if you assume, counter all evidence, that increasing penalties would deter crime on Metro, wouldn’t that just give criminals an incentive to commit crimes on the street instead of Metro and that is not really good; (c) increasing sentences costs taxpayers a heck of a lot of cash, and many of us would rather see that cash go to increasing police patrols or funding programs that will prevent crime from happening in the first place.

      • anon

        finally, amidst all of the under-informed outrage and knee-jerk overreactions to anecdotes, a voice of reason! +1

    • jcm

      You’re going to vote out Bowser because of a program created by McDuffie? And you’re mad at McDuffie for voting against a bill proposed by the mayor you want to vote out? I’m not convinced you’ve actually thought your position through.

      • Anon

        +1 I was trying to wrap my head around that logic as well. There are many issues in government that merit concern or outrage, but it helps to have a basic level of understanding of civics to know where to direct the concern and how to fix the issues.

      • west_egg


    • ET

      Is Metro such a special place/case that punishment for crimes committed there should be any different than it is elsewhere? I am sorry but that makes no sense- the location of the crime makes no difference.

  • ASLL

    I think this sounds great. Fighting symptoms is ineffective if the core problems are not solved. Are there details about how the community can get involved?

    • Jim

      Don’t worry, like it or not you are through your taxes

  • Anonymous

    Way cheaper than prisons, courts, attorneys, more cops (with bloated pensions), etc – and with much better results. The end game is create law abiding taxpayers that pay more resources than they take over their lifetime. Prison is a bottomless money pit.
    Also, the kids in this program need to have a clean record. So it’s all about giving kids the tools and incentives to PREVENT them from becoming criminals. It’s a brilliant idea and has worked well in places like Brazil, which have seen massive drops in crime.

    • java

      Birth control is cheap too. I grew up in poverty. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in a very dysfunctional home (abuse, no support). I didn’t rob people on the metro. I didn’t commit any crimes. For one thing I was too afraid to commit a crime. Back in the day you were punished. You didn’t even think about eating/drinking on the metro. You got fined. These days I’m a case worker who works in Anacostia. There are plenty of programs out there to help kids and families. That isn’t the problem in DC. A lot of people shouldn’t be having kids at such a young age. Having kids seems to come before completing their education, vocational education leading to a job etc. I’m tired of these young kids getting a pass. I’ve never been afraid to ride metro (buses or trains). I’m afraid now. These kids get a slap on the wrist if that. Are most young African Americans? Yep. Are most of the victims white? Yep. So what? That’s how it is in DC. In other parts of the country such as Appalachia, it is generally white committing the crimes. It doesn’t matter. And there are far fewer programs to help Appalachians than here in DC. I now live in Ward 3 (after years of working multiple jobs and sacrificing to go to college). I’m tired of paying taxes for crazy ineffective programs like this.

      • Anonymous

        Ok, so your answer to the problem is eugenics. I feel sorry for the children who are your cases. WTF.
        You know damn well why we can’t offer free contraception, abortions, and medical care to the poor – CONGRESS.

        • Anon

          That’s incredibly hyperbolic. It’s a pretty common theory that increased access to birth control decreases crime and it makes sense when you consider the economic options available to women who have access to family planning. I’m not sure it’s been proven, though.

          • carol

            I grew up in a poor rural area, a lot of teens got pregnant in high school (even though we had condoms available at school) because they did not see their life going any where else. It was simply something to do. The school system was not that great, most people did not go onto college and there was very little low skilled jobs available. I agree with access to birth control but also lets give Dc kids an incentive both not to commit crimes and not to have children young by increasing their chances at success in life. We need better schools and we need to deal with the poverty that already affects the area. It is hard for kids to do well in a classroom if there is trouble at home , if they are hungry, if their housing is not stable ect

        • Anon Spock

          Are you unclear what eugenics means? Saying don’t have a child until you can afford it and have a stable life doesn’t fit the definition.

      • jcm

        How on earth can a case worker in Anacostia believe that people today aren’t punished? Do you have any idea what the incarceration rate is in DC? What the percentage of black males under correctional control? What the unemployment rate is for ex-offenders?
        We lock up more people than any other country in the world, and you’re claiming people don’t get punished? Unbelievable.

        • Anon Spock

          Because juveniles (who are the majority of perpetrators in these crimes) are being slaps on the wrist or not even charged and convicted. There have been numerous posts/comments on such a topic.

        • HaileUnlikely

          It may well be the case (and honestly I think it is) that the probability of any meaningful punishment is too low (especially for older juveniles who commit violent crimes short of homicide) yet the severity of punishment for adults who commit certain classes of nonviolent crimes is inordinately great. That is how we can have both low-level drug offenders in for decades and youth who beat the hell out of a stranger back on the street the next day.

          • jcm

            Sure, that’s a possible hypothesis, but I think when you look at the data it’s wrong. I don’t see how punishment can be rare when something like a tenth of the population is currently under correctional control. I think the correct hypothesis is that you can’t incarcerate yourself out of our crime problem. You need to look at other solutions to the problems of crime and poverty. Some of that is finding ways for ex-offenders to integrate successfully into society, some of that is preventing people from offending in the first place. But just locking up more people for longer doesn’t seem to work.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I agree with all of that, actually. But I also agree with java’s statement that “kids get a slap on the wrist.” It obviously isn’t literally true, but I don’t think it was so far off as to warrant the tone of your response (“How on earth can a case worker in Anacostia believe that people today aren’t punished? Do you have any idea what the incarceration rate is in DC?”). Without implying any judgment of what I think is an appropriate punishment for any particular class of offender, I don’t find fault with her statement that “kids get a slap on the wrist.” Even if it is proven false once in a while, it is true often enough that teens today to not expect any real consequences unless they murder somebody.

          • Andre

            The idea that DC has a higher than normal incarceration rate is incredibly misleading. In D.C. it’s pretty normal for one to have to be convicted of a felony 3-4 times before a non-suspended jail sentence is handed down. That first jail sentence is usually well under 6 months. Trust me, DC felons get many bites of the apple before they are sent to federal prison (DC sends everyone doing over a year to the federal system) Non-violent drug offenders have to screw up their probation pretty royally to see the inside of a jail cell via D.C. Superior Court unless they perpetually get arrested and fail out of the many pretrial/probation programs afforded to them. The non-violent drug offenders in D.C. that go to prison come from the federal courts and those make up a very small percentage of the case population. Keep in mind also that those federal non-violent offenders are convicted of being part of a larger conspiracy that often utilizes violence in furtherance of the mission. Trust me, DC is by far the best place in the COUNTRY to be arrested.

          • jcm

            HaileUnlikely, it’s not clear to me whether java was talking about juvenile crime or all crime, but the implication of the post is that 1) juvenile (or all?) crimes are punished at a lower rate today than they were “back in the day”. 2) increasing either the today’s incarceration rate or sentencing toughness would have the effect of reducing juvenile (or all) crime. Perhaps there’s data to support one or both of these assertions, but if there is then I’ve never seen it.
            The reason for my tone is that I am genuinely incredulous that a case worker in Anacostia would be unaware of the effects of mass incarceration, would claim that the system was tougher back in the day, or would just handwave away the problem with a stern “I lifted myself out of poverty, why don’t they” attitude. It’s the kind of stuff I read all the time here, but most of the Popville commenters have zero experience with poverty and at-risk populations, so I’m not surprised at their attitudes.

          • DC Rez

            Come on y’all you know what Java is referring to. Teenagers in this town get away carrying pistols, selling drugs, running gangs, murder, random beatings on metro, storming the streets with offroad ATVs, cursing, fighting, causing mayhem. Teens being normal teens in the USA, right? We see it weekly and know it all too well. We may have high levels of incarceration, but it seems what we’re all concerned about is having so many teens commit violent crime around town with what we perceive to be practically no useful interventions from the authorities. AND they hide their identity from us even though many are repeat offenders. Every little bit of something “more” to address the problem has got to be better than the collective response we have now?

      • AG

        What does the race of the kids have to do with anything? I agree we need to actually punish the kids who commit crimes. And we should make birth control more accessible (thanks to ACA it’s already affordable). But if this program has proved effective in other places, why not try it here? You can have all the afterschool programs in the world, but if kids don’t have an incentive to go, it will be just throwing money at the problem. For me, disappointing my parents or the threat of punishment was enough of an incentive, but if you don’t have that structure, I have no problem using cold hard cash to keep kids in line until they have the skills and awareness to stay out of trouble.

        • AngelaGirken

          Not just affordable–FREE.

      • stacksp

        Most of the victims are NOT white. Maybe the crimes that are being reported and looked into by police are that of white victims but most victims are DEFINITELY not white. Half these shootings and stabbings are retaliation from a previous offense to either the offender or someone that they are close to. And there are countless muggings, rapes etc that go unreported out of fear and/or not wanting to work with police. If you sell drugs and someone shoots you. You cant necessarily report that crime to police. That would be self incriminating so you handle it yourself in the streets. That is what this program is targeting. To be able to go to the young man and say, I know such and such shot you. Let the police handle the issue. Lets not escalate and create more senseless violence. Instead of doing what you are doing in the streets, here is an opportunity for a better way.

        • Anonymous

          Yeah, that struck me too. Most of the victims of the crimes that make it onto the pages of PoP (and other similar community blogs) are White. But the vast majority of the victims of Black criminals are Black people.

      • kittycatbob


  • D

    Is it effective?

    • shmoo

      it was shown to be effective in Richmond, CA where the Program was started and what DC’s Program is based off of.

      • monkeyrotica

        Correlation vs causation? The program was implemented between 2007 and 2014, a period when urban crime was already on the decline. You could make the case that DC DIDN’T implement this policy during the same period, and crime went down.

        • FridayGirl

          I disagree with this. While DC may not have the same success, urban crime was NOT on the decline in Richmond, CA during that time period:
          “… The Bay Area’s 15 biggest cities saw 310 homicides last year, up from the 275 homicides in 2011 and 248 in 2010.” – Demian Bulwa and Justin Berton, “Bay Area homicide rate rises in 2012,” January 2013.

          • msus

            Yeah, Richmond has yet to see gentrification. It’s a dump and has had a crime problem for over 30 years now.

      • Alex

        Where has it been show to be effective? Neither the UC Berkely review or the study from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (with DOJ funding) has actually concluded that the Richmond program was effective. The drop in homicide mirrors the national drop that took place since 2006. And Richmond implemented several other programs at the same time as the stipend program. Other that largely anecdotal, self-reported “evidence” what have we seen that convincingly attributes a drop in homicides with guns (because there’s not demonstrated drop in violent crime generally) to the stipend program?

        Not to mention that Richmond is a jurisdiction of 103k people with lower density and a less transient population with DC.

  • Anonymous

    WTF. How does this solve the problem while residents are getting assaulted and robbed? I believe in fair enforcement, but you can’t solve these problems with rainbows and lollipops. People are outraged because people we know are getting assaulted and the Mayor/Council/MPD seem afraid to actually enforce the law or hold people accountable.

    • DG

      The sole point of this law is to prevent people from getting assaulted and robbed. If that is what you want, then you should be in favor of this law.

      • FridayGirl

        YES! This! You think people concerned about crime in DC would be more open minded about any type program that might help. Unfortunately, it seems many DC residents just want to fight hard against the DC government — no matter how good or bad the policies and outcomes end up being.

    • Anonymous

      Solving the issue of people getting robbed and assaulted by younger folks is a long, long game. It’s not something that can be fixed next week. The only reason you’re concerned about it now is because it’s happening to white people with social media accounts. Assault and robbery has been a plague on DC for 40+ years, yet no one seemed to give a crap.
      So let’s try something new. More than anything, these kids need therapy. Lots and lots of therapy before they become old enough to lash out and engage in criminal behavior. Vast majority of criminals in DC are themselves victims of crime, abuse, neglect, and crappy self-esteem. Perhaps this program can mitigate that downward spiral. It’s easy to say “Don’t be a criminal!” when you’re growing up in a nice safe suburb with lots of resources and sources of emotional support (i.e., parents, teachers, and institutions that make you feel special).

      • tom

        Actually tons of people gave a crap long before now. Concern about crime was a major factor in why for much of the 70-90s, DC was a declining city where there was massive flight to the suburbs by people of all races.

        My AA boyfriend’s family wouldn’t let him go into the city alone as a teenager precisely because they were worried about the crime issue.

      • anon

        “younger folks…white people with social media accounts…lots of therapy.” You have managed to pack an incredible amount of anti-gentrification dogwhistles and urban liberal bromides into one magnificent pile of horse manure.

      • really?

        “It’s easy to say “Don’t be a criminal!” when you’re growing up in a nice safe suburb with lots of resources and sources of emotional support (i.e., parents, teachers, and institutions that make you feel special).”

        This is an extremely insensitive post.

        I grew up with just my dad working a blue-collar job and my mom at home in an upper-midwest city, and it was very easy for them to tell me not to be a criminal. In fact, he never had to tell me that because it would have been unthinkable for any of us go down that path.

        Why is manual labor seen as so lowly around here? I see Latinos working hard construction, and I never see black people on work sites. Or how come none of them can work in salons like the Vietnamese, or drive taxis like the Ethiopians. Every god damn job that’s available to increase their lot in life is apparently too hard for them to do. The immigrants don’t have any issues busting their ass to get a better life.

        • Bitter Elitist

          I see Blacks working on road crews up and down NW. Salons and barbershops? YMBNH. Black Americans used to drive taxis, most of them are retired and have kids who have white collar jobs and live in the burbs.

          What you are talking about are an increasingly permanent underclass, not an entire race. FTR, I’ve been sexually harassed by immigrant cabbies and have walked around drunk immigrants on the street.

  • Petworther

    From what I’ve heard of the program elsewhere it doesn’t seem unreasonable. But I have zero confidence in our city government to manage it properly. In order for this to work you need to know if they committed a crime. That’s just not happening.

    • Marty

      I agree. I don’t like the idea of this program (paying $ not to commit a crime) but am willing to try just about anything at this point. DC mismanages just about every program it can get its hands on. I really have no faith that the money won’t be given to folks who just use it to buy bigger guns and more ski masks.

    • Tim

      Surely you’re not saying that city managers and once-and-future council members would try to take advantage of a program designed to dispense cash to a socioeconomic group whose perceptions dominate local voting implications?

      That they would dole it advantageously out like turkey-for-vote Barry or ward boss Thomas Sr.?
      That they would direct of that money to their own pockets like Thomas Jr.?
      That, when picking the firm to handle the payments contract, they could be bribed one Brown?
      That whoever runs it would fully load their office’s trappings like the other Brown?
      That they would surround themselves with unqualified, unhelpful criminals like Gray?
      That they would intervene in program execution to help supporters like Orange?

      Lanier and Bowser NOT being involved makes me support program’s merits. Living in DC for several years makes me roll my eyes at the program’s potential here.

  • anonymous

    I don’t understand the outraged responses here. This is modeled on a program that has proven successful in other places, and is proactive about doing what we can about kids at high risk of committing crimes (which, sorry to disappoint, doesn’t include arresting them). They’re not relaxing their policy toward those who HAVE committed crimes. What’s not to like?

    • Anon

      DC is not “other places.” Other places also have functioning streetcars and rail-based mass transit systems that work. I have no confidence that the DC government will execute this program as intended. My prediction is that a non-trivial number of participants in the program will be involved in violet crime anyway due to poor oversight. Also someone will find a way to profit from this and it won’t be the public at large.

    • elly2

      I know… I was pleasantly surprised by this. I think active enforcement is important, but what is not to like about trying to prevent kids from falling into a life of crime especially when it has been proven effective in another location already?

  • well

    I don’t like it from an ethical standpoint, but if it works it will be cheaper than paying for incarceration and the other costs of crime (courts, police, victims’ expenses, etc.). This is a classic “million-dollar Murray” situation where society has to choose between allocating money based on morals (so not giving it to criminals) vs. finances (paying criminals is ok if it cuts crime). http://gladwell.com/million-dollar-murray/

    Research shows that a certain percentage of teens commit crimes: because their brains are underdeveloped or they have a bad group of friends or they’re just assholes. But whether they go on to a life of crime or grow into decent adults who went through an early asshole phase depends in large part on how the first offenses were handled. And incarcerating them with a bunch of other young or adult criminals is about the worst way to help them grow up into law-abiding folks. So even though it is so incredibly tempting to want to lock up kids who commit crimes (and believe me, when I hear about things my friends and neighbors have been victims of I want to round up the miscreants and drop them off in the middle of some desert somewhere) this does sound like a better solution.

    I think the biggest challenge though is to find service providers who are actually good role models. Some are only a half step removed (or not removed at all) from lives of crime and drugs themselves, and while that gives them empathy for the kids I don’t think a lot of service providers really know what it takes to get kids into a different lifestyle.

    • Caroline

      “Research shows that a certain percentage of teens commit crimes: because their brains are underdeveloped or they have a bad group of friends or they’re just assholes. But whether they go on to a life of crime or grow into decent adults who went through an early asshole phase depends in large part on how the first offenses were handled.”

      I would love to see the journal article for this!

    • [rrrrr]

      Except that this program requires you to have a clean record to participate, so it is explicitly NOT giving money to criminals. Outrage machine on this board is unreal.

      • FridayGirl


        • anon

          Caveat: $ not given to criminals who have been CAUGHT or have a previous record… so the criminals just have to be slightly more careful to not be identified…

          • wdc

            Doesn’t that apply to pretty much everything anyone could suggest? Stiffer criminal penalties! Caveat: not for criminals who haven’t been caught. Bigger jails! But not for criminals who haven’t been caught. String ’em up! But only if you can catch ’em.

      • dcd

        Yeah – I am rather vocally on record that juveniles who commit crime (especially serious crime such as armed robbery, to point to a recent post), but that doesn’t mean other measures to address crime shouldn’t be tried. I’d think everyone would agree that preventing crime is better than punishing crime, or attempting rehabilitation. And this isn’t a really significant expense. What’s the problem?

  • HaileUnlikely

    I hope they will also put into place data systems adequate for performing an evaluation of the effects of the program. (I was going to say “I hope they evaluate whether it works,” but realized before I even finished typing that I would not trust the DC government to conduct a methodologically valid evaluation – I hope the program is structured in such a way that it would be possible for an independent third party to do so, though.)

    • FridayGirl

      +100. I actually would have killed [not literally] to be part of the data team evaluating a program like this back when I graduated from undergrad and was still super data-y. It is very important.

      • Mamasan

        I wonder if this is something where one of the colleges could give credit for working on the metrics to evaluate the program, while providing the data review at nominal cost…

  • andy

    If you look at all of the murder and shooting stats, as Chief Lanier and others have said again and again, the number of people who shoot at each other (and occasionally others) is pretty small. I would do practically anything to change the way these people think and act. If giving them some amount of cash to make a change will change something, I would do it.

    To me it’s kind of like the homeless housing. You can talk and make moral demands of people with major problems, or you can put them in housing even if they’re addicts. The latter appears to have worked even if we grit our teeth that a bunch of losers got something for nothing.

    If we do anything about kids and twenty-somethings who think their moral value comes from toughness, being a threat to others, getting money outside the legal adult American economy, etc., until they stop thinking and living the way they do, we won’t get too far. We need to grit our teeth and change their incentives in tangible ways.

    • chellefish


  • No, just no

    I’d rather pay 10x in taxes to throw these assholes in jail forever than give them freeeeee $$$ not to commit crimes.

    • wdc

      What “assholes”? Who are you talking about? Kids who lost the birth lottery and need the incentives that were provided to you and I by involved parents?

    • Tim

      See: Andy (above). It’s all about incentives, not “justice.” This program creates incentives that are just as powerful as — but much, much cheaper than — incarceration. Whether the DC government will fall on its butt in execution is another matter. In fact, save the incarceration torches and pitchforks for the inevitable white-collar criminals that manage the program. Let’s work on the violent problems now and delay our gratification until then.

    • anonymous

      This is such infuriating logic. The point is to give kids the push they need – a push you got without being aware – to divert them from committing crimes. These programs work on the margin, by changing incentives; the real assholes will commit crimes no matter what, and you’ll have the pleasure of paying to punish them. This program works for kids who commit crimes because of their circumstances.

      • dcd

        Absolutely. I have no problem (indeed, advocate) throwing the hammer down on juveniles (say, 16+ yo) who commit violent crimes or felonies. But I would much, much prefer that they not commit crimes at all. Preventing that first crime makes a world of difference.

    • AMDCer

      I wonder if the victims of those crimes that you want to allow these “assholes” to commit so you can pay 10x in taxes to punish would agree with that logic.

  • John

    It is more than a bit of a stretch to say this program was successful in Richmond, CA. See the link ta MOTHER JONES (of all the liberal rags)…not even MJ could come out in support. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/richmond-california-murder-rate-gun-death

    This is nothing more than giving money to criminals….it is protection money paid by the good people to the bad so they won’t be violent. Violence is not is a disease, it is a behavioral choice.

  • FridayGirl

    It baffles me how many people complain about high crime rates in DC, and then complain about DC adopting methods that have been *statistically proven* to tackle crime. Like, personally, at this point I am starting to be happy that they take steps at all. As ineffective as they often are, DC government is clearly damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    • Just a Citizen

      Lol, yes, *statistically proven*. Lol

      • FridayGirl

        Lol at you, too. I’d love for someone with a career in stats to come correct me if I’m wrong or add evidence, but while DC isn’t Richmond, CA, I’d be willing to place a bet that these numbers likely illustrate a statistically significant reduction in crime since their program started: https://www.cacities.org/Member-Engagement/Helen-Putnam-Awards/California-City-Solutions/2013/Office-of-Neighborhood-Safety (Scroll down to the bottom)

        • anon

          Again, as noted above, selective “results.” If the goal of the program is to reduce homicides, it may work. If it is to reduce overall crime, not so much

        • tom

          Well, my MS in economics, but with a concentration is “econometrics” or basically statistics for economics.

          Since the data is based on a population and not a sample of homicides the concept of statistical significance doesn’t really apply. There was a known factual drop in homicides, not an estimated one.

          That being said the link does not qualify as a “program evaluation” or a rigorous study to determine if the policy had any sort of causal effect. At a bare minimum we would want to see what murder rates were like prior to 2007. The data shows murder being very high in 2007, dropping in 2008, then spiking back in 2009, and then falling in the years since. here 2007 and 2009 unusually high years for homicides? What explains the 2009 spike? Additionally, we would want to control for the variety of other factors: did this coincide with increased police enforcement, general crime trends (the program is aimed at young adults, was the murder rate also down among other age groups), did criminal elements. In practice this is very hard to do.

          The best we can say from a single well designed program evaluation or statistical study is that the program didn’t make the crime problem worse and provides some evidence that it helped achieve its objective. Ideally, we would want to do lots of these pilot projects across the country to get more and more results. More often than not the results are mixed, programs that look good in one place fail in another, and vice versa.

          So it seems the argument for launching this program in DC isn’t that it has been “scientifically” proven to work. Far from it. But, rather because it has shown some promise in Richmond, Ca and that we need to be bold and try lots of different things to fight the crime problem in DC. Let’s set up a pilot project and carefully study it to see if it works.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Good explanation, and agreed on all counts with the very minor exception of the statement that the study proves that it didn’t make the problem worse. I would contend that we can’t know that any more than we can know that it did or didn’t make the problem better. What an evaluation would ideally like to compare is what happened after program implementation versus what *would have happened* had the program not been implemented. Since we don’t get to directly observe what would have happened if the program hadn’t been implemented, we often look to the past and assume naively that if not for the program the past would have simply repeated itself. But who knows, maybe if not for the adverse effects of the program, the homicide rate would have decreased even more! (I’m not seriously suggesting that this program is harmful–that would seem to border on the implausible–but I don’t think anything about the “study” in question precludes that possibility.) In any event, yes, the only way we will really ever know the effects of such a program is to try it and evaluate it.

          • tom

            Very true, I should has said “unlikely to have made the homicide issue worse.”

            The best way to truly study the issue would be to implement the policy and study it. Then get a time machine and go back in time, don’t implement the program and see what happens. Maybe do that a dozen times just to be sure. Even then all we could say is whether it worked in Richmond Ca.

            As a “social scientist” I would love to see something like that done. Unfortunately, in the real world our research budgets aren’t big enough for all the plutonium needed to power a flux capacitor. So we have to make do with what we have: unreliable statistics, unrealistic experiments, and ideology.

          • Anon

            Sorry to quibble. The concept of “statistical significance” definitely does apply, even if you are dealing with a population and not a sample. There is variation in crime over time, even absent policy intervention. It can be stable (i.e. there is variation around a stable mean) or it can drift (for some reason, there is variation AND the mean changes – as has happened since the early 1990s.)
            The change in crime is considered “statistically significant” if observed crime post-policy declined far enough below the range of outcomes that were probable pre-policy, such that the observed post-policy crime rate is not likely to be drawn from the same distribution as the observed pre-policy crime rate.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Anon – I actually agree with you on this one, but I learned long ago that this is not a battle worth fighting. There are schools that churn out PhDs in statistics where everybody is taught that statistical significance only applies to samples and not populations. Technically, that is true as far as it goes, but sometimes what on the surface looks like a population (e.g., all the murders in the city last year – every single one – I counted them!) can also reasonably be viewed as a sample (in this case, a random draw from the population of murders that could have happened, some but not all of which actually came to pass).
            Regardless, that’s footnote material. The change in this case was very obviously statistically significant (at the arbitrary levels of statistical significance that is generally cited when seeking to confer magical powers upon a statistical result by comparing it to the same time-honored arbitrary threshold that some guy once used to suggest that some other guy was falsifying data about pea plants…I digress). The issue here is whether the change in the homicide rate, which was fairly obviously attributable to something more than random variation, was attributable to the program that we’re talking about or whether it was attributable to some other unobserved (but real) change, which is a question that has nothing to do with statistical significance.

        • tom

          Hahah…fair technical points. But, we are basically all in agreement that:
          1) there was clearly was a real decline in the murder total from 2007 to 2014.
          2) But, the link above is not proof or an evaluation that the program has been shown to work. We can’t just look at the totals from 2007 to 2014 and conclude the program works, particularly the controversial “stipend program.”

  • SWChick

    This program sounds good but I’m not sure DC Govt can handle it. I worked in Public Health for DC Govt for some time and inter-agency partnerships are ALWAYS iffy. The ball always gets dropped. :-( I hope they are successful though. Having a clinician at the ER to speak with victims of violent crime is the first step to behavioral health integration. Sounds epic, but its super difficult.

  • Ryan

    So now DC would like me, as a taxpayer, to out-and-out pay our city’s “troubled youth” to please not violently rob or randomly attack people in my neighborhood?

    Seeing that Capitol Hill couldn’t even form a citizens group to discuss our alarming violent crime problem without the organizer–who has significant liberal bonafides and who used extensive social justice messaging–being tarred as a Klansman, I simply refuse to engage in good faith with this proposal or anyone who would support it.

    If this is effective in the short term, fine. But if this is the best our leaders can do then I fully support solving the problem in the long-term by enacting policies that will limit the number of youth who remain within the DC city limits who will be eligible for this program.

    • Marty


    • wdc

      Taxpayers have been paying for other kids’ developmental advantages forever– better schools, better access to healthcare, mortgage interest tax deductions, tax breaks for businesses that serve wealthy communities… Why are you opposed to THIS distribution when these are the kids who missed out on all that other public good?

      • anonymous

        +1. Tax-advantaged college savings.

      • Anonymous

        Because, poor black people.

      • Ryan

        Wealthier taxpayers have traditionally clustered in homogeneous communities so that they’re paying for their *own* kid’s developmental advantages (principally schools, your other examples are a bit odd). This generation’s return to urban centers that our “boomer parents abandoned has upset that norm. As a wealthier resident I fully support my tax dollars going to support a vast array of public goods that improve my community and that my own (hypothetical) kids might reap the benefits of.

        But this program is not that. It’s crassly identifying the worst possible element in our society and cravenly paying them not to do violence to their neighbors. Worse it even seems to create a strong financial incentive for kids to make sure they qualify for the program by living down to whatever the selection criteria are.

        The DC metro area is unique in it’s political geography and in its historical ability to compartmentalize the costs of poverty. And the wealthy residents of Virginia (think McClean) and Maryland (think Bethesda) have avoid any responsibility for the issue. As gentrification continues apace, I look forward to the costs of poverty increasingly moving out of the city and onto the taxrolls of MD and VA.

        • Dolly Mad

          Funny you should mention that. I grew up in McLean and I can still remember our weekly meetings and memos on how to keep random strangers across state lines awash in crime and poverty.

          The fact is that DC decides it wants to be the regional respoitory for poverty and crime. Why it does that, I’m not sure. You’d have to talk to the voters and taxpayers about that one.

          • Ryan

            Not sure if sarcasm or if you simply missed white flight, redlining, and exclusionary zoning while taking AP U.S. History at TJ? My generation has settled on “gentrification” to create and enforce economic segregation, so… whatever.

          • Anonymous

            “The fact is that DC decides it wants to be the regional respoitory for poverty and crime.”
            Um, no. Redlining and restrictive covenants prevented blacks – who historically this area’s poor for hundreds of years prior to 1975 – from moving to MANY areas of Northern VA and Montgomery County. Also, DC was a free area for slaves during the worst years of slavery. Hence DC has historically held a large, impoverished black population. Additionally, don’t discount the fact that many of the suburbs have had strict zoning rules against multi-family housing – “keep out those (i.e. poor) people.” DC is the regional repository for the poor because MD and VA wanted it that way. It helps them that DC had zero representation in Congress. It’s not like the DC government willingly chose this course of action.

          • long timer

            “Mayor Bowser Directs $90 Million to Produce & Preserve 800 Affordable Housing Units” (https://www.popville.com/2016/01/mayor-bowser-directs-90-million-to-produce-preserve-800-affordable-housing-units/)

            The City will be spending money to take house people who will be a net drain (taxes brought in vs. government spending) on the City’s economy. Not sure how the average citizen of DC benefits from this, but again, it’s their elected government.

  • chellefish

    I’m on board, both from an ethical and practical standpoint. Curious to see how/if it’s actually executed and how/if the results are collected and studied. For the record, I also think improved access to and education about family planning/parenting is a huge piece of the puzzle, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a case for eugenics.

    • AngelaGirken

      I’m sincerely curious to hear more about your ethical support of this measure. I’m all for anything that in practice helps to deal with the DC crime situation (as a disabled woman I have already been a victim and am a likely target for reasons outside my control), but if I was a poor parent with kids who, whether real or perceived, made sacrifices and better life choices to keep my kids under control and out of these qualifying categories, I would be really ticked off by this program. It’s almost textbook that a lot of people who snap into antisocial behavior are ones that follow all the rules and end up worse off for it, so then they stop. It seems like this could create a lot of conflict or at least bad morale. The fairness issue makes me wonder about how ethical it could be, as opposed to something like a basic income for families making under a certain amount.

  • Anonymous

    Does this mean that a teenager only has to exhibit behavior – even if faking it – that would indicate that he or she may be at risk, and then suddenly starts getting free money? Wouldn’t it be better to use conditional cash transfers, such as with Brazil’s bolsa familia, to promote parents to make sure that their kids are in school and not in trouble? Creating monetary incentives to not commit violence doesn’t seem to tackle the major underlying problems: a lack of parental interest and a lack of education.

    • Anonymous

      “…a lack of parental interest and a lack of education.”
      While this is certainly an issue, it’s not the panacea that upper middle class white intelligentsia believe it to be. Vast majority of poor black households have a single parent (usually a woman) working multiple low wage jobs. Maybe if we pay the parent(s) more, they can spend more time and effort raising their children? These kids are basically raised by their peer group – that’s why they make so many bad decisions. The parents are working their butts off to make ends meet AND they get criticized by the wealthiest in society for “not being engaged” in their children’s’ education and upbringing.
      Frankly, they can’t ever get ahead.

      • Dan

        It’s not always low income teenagers getting into trouble. However, I do understand what you are saying. Sometimes wealthy or poor parents aren’t aware of their children bad behavior. I was standing at a Metro bus stop several weeks ago and several teenage males were waiting at the bus stop with me. All these guys attend a private Catholic school. You should have heard the language and sexual talk coming out of their mouths. They weren’t threatening or anything to me. They were just being teenage boys. It took me back to my days in high school in the 70’s. Me an my fellow classmates did displayed some of the same behavior without our parents knowing. However, the teenagers attacking and beating people up on the Metro or D.C. streets should be prosecuted as adults.

  • Kudos to McDuffie and the Council (unanimous vote!) for taking on a program that was sure to be politically troublesome. Fact is, the threat of incarceration just doesn’t work as a deterrent. Actual incarceration has proven to be doubly bad for us — very expensive, and just turning novice criminals into career criminals. The “stipend” approach makes the punishment much more intimate and credible: mess up, and we’ll take away your allowance. Even juveniles can understand that.

    Yes, it’s obnoxious to have to do this. But if it significantly reduces robberies, burglaries, and theft in our neighborhoods, then it’s worth doing.

  • Crittenden Res

    I’m a fan… there’s a real need to work at these issues from BOTH sides. Carrot and a stick as they say…

  • madmonk28

    Yeah, it’s all in the execution. We’re not going to arrest our way out of the problem of crime in DC and we’re not going to hug our way out. We need preventative programs and to take violent crime seriously. What we don’t need is the current state of affairs where city government kind of shrugs and acts like it’s no big deal. A pack of teens savagely beating someone on the Metro is a big deal, the fact that it happens fairly regularly is a very big deal and we need a city government that is not okay with the status quo.

    • FridayGirl

      you hit the nail on the head.

    • dcd

      100% right.

      • ANNON MPD (2)

        So as a citizen and resident of DC, I think this is a great idea. It worked in CA (although their city is about 500K less than ours and don’t have as much commuter traffic as we do.) It’s an interesting theory that has stastically worked in CA and we will see if it works in DC. Criminal Justice is always one idea away from being turned on its head for good and bad. But I do have a few issues with the program because I am a city employee and know how this city operates. My issues is as follows:

        1. For the people that are on the list and receiving the incentivizes; if they’re arrest in MD or VA do they lose the incentive in DC? Or are we only worried about people committing crime in DC?
        2. If a person is on the list because they’re at risk of commuting a gang like crime (homicide, robberies) and are arrested for driving a car without a permit do they still lose the incentive? Or again does the city only care about big violent crimes?
        3. How are we going to judge this incentive? Is it if they only reoffend the “big crimes” or any crimes at all?
        4. Who will make the decisions who makes the list and received the incentives?
        5. Will there be any other classes, education programs or stuff like that mandated while recieving the incentive?

        Seeing how the city will reword something to fit the narrative for the Mayor or Chief Lanier, if this incentive is an utter failure, we as the public won’t know until long after they’re out of office. That is my final worry about the idea. But overall think it’s a great idea!

  • Kevin

    The program in CA it’s modeled after pays each participant 9K a year if they manage to go crime free. Is that we are talking about spending here because you aren’t going to convince anyone to stop robbing people or slinging crack for ~ 200 per year.

    And yet again, District tax payers are accommodating the lowest common denominator. I would rather we spend more building prisons to keep these people off the street than to pay mafia like “protection” money to thugs so they don’t rob me. The fact that we would entertain this idea is unbelievably embarrassing and show just how far DC has gone to coddle the criminal class because they are apparently unable to keep themselves from committing crime.

    • boom

      Spending money on prisons instead of education (on a national level) is one of the reasons we find ourselves discussing topics like these.

  • Easy Piecy

    Excellent. Here’s where you go to seek the “at risk” criminals 14/R (these kids were just arrested in Petworth yesterday) so now they will have subsidized housing in one of the least affordable places in the city, and an stopped to spend in Logan Circle. Maybe free Uber rides for life so that they don’t use their ATVs anymore? We should start thinking about their retirement too.

    • say what

      Or hang out in Grant circle and arrest the packs for teenages there. That place is probably the most dangerous in Ward4 right now. And as long os Brainne has her way, we will get a shit ton more low income housing in Ward 1 so the cycle of poverty will be reinforced. Just in principle, paying people who choose to opt our of civilized society feels wrong. mcDuffie is usually smarter than this. Brainne is a total let down and god knows I didn’t vote for Bowser. I still can’t believe anyone with a brain in their head voted for her but thats water under the bridge I guess. This is the most unsafe I have ever felt in 20 years in DC. Knowing that we will likley get shut out in school lottery will finally be the push I need to move out.

      • tke

        Not being snarky, but there are only two circles in Ward 4. Both in Petworth . . . and three or so blocks from each other. Did you mean to say that Grant Circle is the most dangerous circle in DC? I live a few blocks away and walk through it at various times of the day with my dog, including late night. I’ve never seen large groups of kids, but admit that I’m not near there any time between 3 pm – 5 pm (after school gets out). When do you see them?

      • boom

        Are these “packs of teenagers” actually committing crimes or committing the far greater crime of making you feel unsafe?

        • dunning-kruger

          Anytime someone uses animal terminology to describe people they don’t like its safe to just ignore them because all you can learn from them is they don’t like that group.
          If I talked about a “gaggle of yuppies” you’d learn how I felt and whether what I said was true or now you’d know my bias which would make my statements suspect whether you lived in the same hood and knew my statements to be false or not.

  • andy2

    I saw this in the Express today…I thought it’d take at least a day to make PoP – fast and the outrage is alive!

  • Dognonymous

    Even though this sounds ridiculous at first glance, I’m all for outside the box experiments if properly administrated. Hopefully this program would provide stipends on some kind of debit card, or I foresee a lot of kids in this program getting robbed by their neighbors after every payout.

    • madmonk28

      Properly administered is the key phrase. This is DC, so it’s not a given than the administration of this program won’t be given to some political crony who runs wild with the project funds for years before they are caught.

  • Anon X

    9000 isnt that much. Besides, whats to keep the recipients of said stipend from arbitrage? They get 9k in the bank and then rob/sell drugs for extra. If they get caught, they have to give the 9k back and go to jail, but odds are they keep the profit from their crimes. They were already going to go to jail if caught… so the marginal cost to them is the 9k they got for free. If they dont get caught they get 9k + earnings from illicit activity.

    If we want to make something like this work, real alternatives to crime need to be found. The majority of crime is motivated by economic circumstances and buying a criminal out of a life of crime for 9k hardly seems worth it.

    I know it is claimed to have worked in Richmond CA… and we certainly need to try new things because the current way of doing things has flaws, but I’m skeptical on the bribing potential criminals not to become criminals program.

    • Zora

      Agree. How much of this $ will be used to fund crime? How much will be find its way into the coffers of politician’s cronies? I have zero faith in DC government to administer this program well.

  • Annon

    Once I saw the thread on PoP, I knew we had ourselves a good old fashion bikers vs. cars type discussion or people with pets vs. no pets. Lots of passion, I like it. As for me, put me down in the column of this being a terrible idea. Where is my stipend for not committing a crime? It makes me angry that my tax dollars are going to be used to pay someone not to break the law. Who would I even contact about this being a terrible idea? Please say this needs congressional approval to be funded because you know that’s not going to happen!

    • HaileUnlikely

      I can see that, but heck, I benefit from all sorts of giveaways of public funds that I’m sure these kids and their families don’t, and they probably amount to a larger dollar amount in my favor anyway, so I temper any “but where’s MY stipend?!” righteous indignation with that.

      • Marty

        just curious – which giveaways would you receive that others (in low SES) wouldn’t? Homestead deduction?

        • HaileUnlikely

          Mortgage interest deduction. In the world inhabited by the families eligible for this program, when you take out a loan, you actually are responsible for the interest. But when you buy a nice house in an expensive place, you get a fat tax break. I enjoy it and am grateful for it, but it still strikes me as kind of iffy public policy. I can’t blame somebody who can’t afford to buy a house if they resent me for getting my mortgage interest deduction, and I freely admit that I resent that people who buy houses that cost a lot more than mine get an even larger deduction to finance their pleasure pad.

        • dcd

          529 plans, deductible education expenses, public schools that don’t stink, 401k plans, mortgage interest deduction . . . the list goes on. Oh, all those things are AVAILABLE to low SES people, but if they had $18,500 to save for retirement, $7200 to save for college, and the ability to buy in the Deal middle school district they wouldn’t really be low SES.

      • tom

        I have issues a lot of issues with the mortgage interest and various other savings deductions that generally benefit higher income households. But, IMO it is a false equivalency to compare a “tax deduction” to families that still pay far more in taxes than they receive in benefits to a program to pay people 9k a year to not get arrested. Many of these people are probably already receiving snap, tanf, housing subsidies, eitc, Medicaid, etc (which I support by the way).

        The righteous indignation should be by the other low SES people who follow the rules and make smart choices in very difficult situations and watch others get paid 9k a year for being “high risk.”

        • HaileUnlikely

          Good point. I will be very interested in learning more about how they determine who to give these incentive payments to. However, while transparency might demand it, I’m not sure it serves the public interest to publicize the selection criteria in a great deal of detail.

          • tom

            I hope the cash stipend would essentially be you are in a intensive support program that includes counseling, mentoring, parental involvement and a work component. Basically the program would help you find structured part-time employment or community service: you would have to engage in a part-time productive activity in a business or “community service” via a nonprofit. I would envision it less as subsidy for “not being arrested/checking in with a social workers” and more of a skills development opportunity. You would have to have real goals and could lose it for non-performance. Not a show up for an hour and shoot the sh$% with the other participants, but real pay for tangible output.

    • KP

      You could use that rationale to argue against food pantries, low income housing, shelters, clothing drives and pretty much every other social safety net program. You aren’t getting a stipend because you are not in a group identified as being at-risk for criminal behavior. Just like you aren’t getting free food from the food pantry, because you are not at risk for malnutrition.

      There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of a program like this in DC, but the “then they have to pay EVERYONE who doesn’t commit a crime” logic is pretty thin. I, for one, am all for trying something new. But there should be metrics and publicly accessible reports on the success or failure.

  • gr36

    So, we’re reverting back to giving the bullies our lunch money so they don’t beat us up again? Seems legit

    • wdc

      No, we’re giving regular kids money that was allocated in the school’s budget so that they can have the things they need without any temptation to steal your lunch money. Like how poor kids get free school lunch, and free transportation, in pretty much every part of this country.

  • Ward One Resident

    Post has been up for two hours and there are ONLY 87 comments. I find this shocking.

  • tobefair

    What if someone is crime free for a year, gets the $$$, and then commits a crime? Do we get reimbursed?

  • Dan

    This is what happens when you have a liberal legislature. Violent crime is out of control in the District of Columbia and many teenagers are committing these violent acts on D.C. streets and the Metro.

    • stacksp

      Crime is not necessarily out of hand its normalizing. DC has always had its share of violent crime. Growing up in the 80s and 90s the crime we read about now is typical of urban city life.

      Programs like these will indeed help some youth and stop some of the retaliation crimes that occur amongst teens but ultimately one has to change the mindset of the elementary school generation and their parents. Many of the 14 -24 year olds are too far gone. Most of their friends have been arrested. There is no fear of authority, prison, or violence but there are a few than can be saved by the NEAR plan if its operated effectively.

  • Bill Johnson

    I’m very concerned, frustrated, and too often afraid about the ongoing street crime on the blocks surrounding my home, but demonizing my young neighbors, calling them “parasites” is part of the problem.

    Please take the time to read the type of research upon which Councilmember McDuffie bases his NEAR plan.

    This is a good place to start: http://njdc.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Criminalizing-Normal-Adolescent-Behavior-in-Communities-of-Color.pdf

  • TAL

    Check out the This American Life segment on this program in Richmond, CA. It worked.

    “CRIME PAYS: Reporter Joe Richman visits a program in Richmond, CA that is trying a controversial method of reducing gun violence in their city: paying criminals to not commit crimes. Sounds crazy, but the even crazier part is…it works. To figure out how, Joe speaks to guys participating in the program, and to Sam Vaugn, a man whose job it is to monitor the criminals’ progress and keep them on track. “

  • Well, I am an example of someone whose mind was changed by logic and reason. When I first read this, I was horrified at the concept. Reading the comments and attached articles about the California program it’s based on, though, makes me think that perhaps this could be a good thing. I am very concerned about DC’s ability to actually run it effectively and not give in to massive corruption though – so I would like to know A LOT more about who will be administering this and what checks and balances are in place.
    For the record about poor people and this just being part of the environment – I grew up way poorer than most of these kids in DC. We’re talking no heat in the house poor, my grandparents still had an outhouse in the late 80’s. I’m a white kid from the south. My mother was working two jobs but my brothers started getting into trouble so she cut back to one to keep an eye on them. We had to give up having any of the niceties in life, but we survived. I helped pay the bills. So, it is possible to rise above your circumstances but it requires a great deal of hard work and grit.

    • Dolly Mad

      “So, it is possible to rise above your circumstances but it requires a great deal of hard work and grit.”

      That’s considered hate speech in these parts.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I have a serious question, not to pick on you, I genuinely want to learn here: did most of your friends and most of the kids at your school live in similar circumstances, or was there more of a mix? The reason I ask is – I grew up with a single mom, at probably around 150-200% of the federal poverty level, living in sort of run-down apartments, getting calls from debt collectors, etc. But my area was a whole lot less economically segregated than DC was. My school had a few poor kids like me, mostly middle class, and some rich kids whose parents were doctors, judges, CEOs, etc. Thus, while my family was poor, I at least had a little peek into the window of the non-poor world. In DC a lot of poor kids go to schools where literally everybody is poor and likely few if any students even know anybody who lives with an adult male who is gainfully employed doing something legal, which is a reality that I cannot even imagine inhabiting.

      • Ryan

        I’m not the original respondent, but grew up in similar circumstances. Much of the suburban and rural south is less economically segregated, but there are big pockets where that’s not the case. For example Appalachia exhibits poverty every bit as widespread and persistent as any urban area, and yet it’s rates of violent crime are lower than the country as a whole.

        • BlueStreak

          But that’s because rural crime rates are always going to be lower than urban rates. It’s because people are closer together. Who cares about Appalachia’s crime rate compared to the country as a whole, compare it to other areas just a sparely populated but with a higher per capita income.

          • Ryan

            My comment was responsive to the one above it regarding economic segregation. You raise a different question with a seemingly different purpose.

      • rachel

        also not the original respondent, but this reminds me tangentially of another TAL episode – “the problem we all live with” – that argued pretty convincingly that integration was the best and possibly only way to improve school performance for low income/segregated schools. and then, when education improves in an area, crime, poverty, and employment outcomes all improve. Haile’s description of his upbringing reminded me of what the TAL episode described as a successful model of integration for school districts.

      • Anonymous

        All poverty is not created equal. One in four black Americans and one in six Hispanic Americans live in high-poverty neighborhoods, compared to just one in thirteen of their white counterparts. And poor white children are much more likely to live in middle-class neighborhoods and much less likely to attend schools where the majority of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • AngelaGirken

    Where I’m from, this is called protection money– I never thought I’d see even DC government condoning this behavior in the 21st century. Yes, I’ve seen the studies and articles about other places that have done this and the “success” of these programs is debatable at the very least.

    Wouldn’t it be better to provide a basic income to residents below a certain income level, regardless of at risk status, and revoking it for people who commit crimes (or reducing it for a family of a kid is a repeat offender)? That might actually help people avoid putting their families in that category to begin with, gets rid of the problem of kids committing crimes to qualify for the program, and would help out all the parents, who, as many people here have mentioned, presumably are failing to raise their children due to monetary pressures. If these parents really would do a decent job raising their kids but for needing to work so much, let’s give them that chance and see how it goes. I imagine most parents would be pretty motivated to keep heir kids on the straight and narrow if some money was at stake. This also avoids the whole issue of rewarding antisocial behavior, which has really negative impact on morale of people who don’t engage in it, including law abiding people also living in poverty right alongside the families who pump out these thugs like widgets on an assembly line. While criminality and poverty are associated, not all poor kids commit crimes, and this seems so ridiculously unfair to them and their parents.

  • tom

    Completely support being pro-active and trying to identify individuals at high risk of committing crime. By all means, yes get them mentoring, get them counseling, tutoring, help them find jobs and positive social activities. Proactively work to bring educators, social workers, community groups, and most importantly parents together with teens on a individual basis..yes, yes, yes!!

    But, it is completely crazy to directly pay people not to commit crimes. I really hope this program is not a “congratulation, you have been identified as a high crime risk. We will pay you X dollars per month not to commit crimes.” It seems that would just incentivize people to become “high risk” in the first place. Teens are smart and will figure out how to game the system for some free cash.

    I need to read more on the details to see if it is the former or the later. In any event, we still need a beefed up police presence and prosecutions to keep repeat violent felons off the street.

    Need to read more on the Richmond program. I’m always a little skeptical of making grand social pronouncements based on a single small pilot project. Could be crime naturally fell after an unusual spike or other factors like increased police presence pushed gang activity to other jurisdictions, etc.

  • davido13

    God this is so pathetic. I have seen teens do PCP dippers at 9 15am in from of Co Hi Metro. The police dont enforce laws and so kids break them . Theeee only solution is undercover cops who arrest ppl for disorderly conduct, smoking PCP, selling weed, and all other crimes. The fact that this doesnt already happen shows that the admin values avoiding criticism for targeting minorities more then stopping crime. I cringe when I see 4 cops in yellow vests walking down 14th St in Co Hi. Could they be more conspicuous?!

    • stacksp

      Weed has been decriminalized.

      • davido13

        selling weed is illegal and so is smoking in public. I am fairly sure if i was selling bottles of liqueur on 14th and Oak the police would have something to say to me.

        • stacksp

          Smoking in public is essentially a parking ticket. Anything under a certain amount of grams is asmall fine. I’d rather not google the statute while at work but I am sure that a joint fits that requirement. As far as selling weed, 14th St has always been sorta an open air drug market, 14th and R, Girard, Clifton, Chapin, Monroe, Belmont etc…

          Not making excuses but it is a lot to police in that area

          • davido13

            Yeah precisely. If you didnt have parking tics actually being distributed and enforced ppl would park anywhere in DC and it would be a sh_t show. Tie non payment of ‘weed’ fines to public benefits and you would see a lot less ppl smoking weed on the streets, and possibly even less crime. It pains me that ppl think this way as it is what causes a ton of probs in DC. Also, its super hard to stop open air drug markets when you have 4 cops patrol the area on foot instead of undercovers busting ppl for the same crap i see on a daily basis.

  • Helene

    I’m going to enroll in this program and keep committing crimes and just hope I don’t get caught. Mwahahahh.

  • jim_ed

    I was far more optimistic about this program until I read the Mother Jones review. We need to try new things to try to end the generational cycles of violence in DC, but – and maybe its me being cynical here – this has “Ron Moten/Peaceoholics slush fund volume 2” written all over it. I’d rather see a pilot program done in a specific neighborhood to see the program’s feasibility in DC before jumping headlong into it, but that wouldn’t be the Council way. Not to sound too cliche, but I’m going to hope for the best but expect the worst from it.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      I like the idea of trying a pilot program first, with outcomes data made available to the public, before it would be instituted District-wide.

  • C_petworth

    I am not opposed to this plan at all, its cheaper then locking people up. but what about also giving teenagers something to do? A job, or more sports. I just feel like if the kids were more involved in activities or employment then there would be less idle youth roaming the streets. I know it can be costly for parents to enroll children in things so maybe we need more resources to subsidize them.

  • C_petworth

    I am not opposed to this plan at all, its cheaper then locking people up. but what about also giving teenagers something to do? A job, or more sports. I just feel like if the kids were more involved in activities or employment then there would be less idle youth roaming the streets. I know it can be costly for parents to enroll children in things so maybe we need more resources to subsidize them.


Subscribe to our mailing list