The San Joaquin Valley Sun reported that the Fresno plan to stop gun violence by paying criminals not to be violent is in the budget process. Richmond, Stockton and Sacramento have funded stipends for ‘high risk’ individuals such as gang members in a program called “Advance Peace.”
The initial setup in the Fresno plan would be a $75K budgetary item. The next year would be $225,000 to be funded by “cannabis activity.”
The stipends in Richmond range from $300 to $1,000 per month, depending upon how far the individual has progressed toward their personal “goals.” [Remember, a gang member can sell drugs and make up to 10 times that amount at one time. Success against violence will depend entirely upon whether the individual chooses to change their lifestyle.]
The program, called Advance Peace, utilizes former convicts to monitor high risk individuals and encourage them to join the program.
From the Advance Peace website:
Advance Peace interrupts gun violence in American urban neighborhoods by providing transformational opportunities to young men involved in lethal firearm offenses and placing them in a high-touch, personalized fellowship—the Peacemaker Fellowship™.
By working with and supporting a targeted group of individuals at the core of gun hostilities, Advance Peace bridges the gap between anti-violence programming and a hard-to-reach population at the center of violence in urban areas, thus breaking the cycle of gun hostilities and altering the trajectory of these men’s lives.
It’s actually not too bad an idea…as long as the funds hold out, and the monitors don’t backslide. And the high risk people hold some form of respect for the “monitors.” Attempting to change the lives of gang members can be a daunting task that many inner city churches and nonprofit groups have worked on before. Sometimes it has been amazingly successful on a small scale in certain violent neighborhoods. Usually, however, the folks aren’t PAID to be in the program, they’re rewarded with hard work and jobs for those who move forward.
In our area, a former drug kingpin turned some former drug dealers/users around simply because they saw him change his own life. It’s a rare example that did work, but only because of their personal respect for the man’s reputation. No one offered to pay those folks to change, either – they just learned that if they stayed out of trouble they could get a job. If they didn’t, they’d end up in trouble again, and maybe go back to prison.
And that had nothing to do with gang violence. Gangs are another matter altogether.
The SJVSun reported:
According to KVPR, Advance Peace solicits five-year commitments from cities, totaling $3 million in spending split between the city (or organizations on behalf of the city) and Advance Peace. After the five-year run, the nonprofit expects cities to fully fund the program.
Despite more than nine years of implementation in Richmond alone and major funding commitments by local governments and organizations, there have been no major studies of the organization or its program’s impact on violent crime.
The Fresno plan is currently working through the budget process for this program.
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