Paying Gang Members to Behave Is Stupid [OPINION]
How do you get gang members to stop committing drive-by shootings? Why, give them cash of course. That's exactly what the Fresno, California City Council is considering.
The Council meets on Tuesday and is expected to debate whether to allocate funds for a so-called Advance Peace initiative that would provide incentives, including cash stipends, to some 138 gang members who are considered by police to be "active shooters."
The Fresno Bee, which endorses the program, says Advance Peace began in Richmond, California in 2010 and resulted in a reduction in homicides. It has been adopted by Sacramento and Stockton. The paper says 43 other cities have since inquired about the program.
Advance Peace uses a combination of public and private funds to hire outreach staff to try and guide gang members into a better way of life while providing them stipends and other financial incentives as rewards for good behavior. Call me old fashioned, but isn't this extortion? Isn't this like the skinny kid handing the bully his lunch money to avoid being beaten up? And what happens when they want more money?
This program would cost the citizens of Fresno some $1.5 million over five years.
I have a better idea. How about if we arrest gang members who are involved in drive-by shootings and put them in prison for a long, long time? Why are there 138 "active shooters" roaming the streets of Fresno to begin with? Are they all legal citizens?
It's time to stop coddling the bad guys and give the good guys the tools to adequately do their jobs. Paying gang members not to shoot at people is a stupid idea that undermines the authority of the police. I bet that $1.5 million could pay for a lot of cops to combat the crime problem.
Another not-so-wonderful idea is hatched in California. Here's hoping this one stays out there.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.