New York City To Pay Criminals Not To Shoot People

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

When I was a kid, I got money for good grades on my report card and doing chores around the house. What I didn’t get money for is not screwing up. What I got was not being grounded, which seemed like a pretty good deal for me. However, New York City figures they can make the deal even better.

They’re going to pay people to not commit violent crimes.

No, seriously. From The Trace:

NEW from THE TRACE: New York to spend $1 million piloting Advance Peace, a violence prevention program that uses financial incentives. The city will launch in a precinct in each borough and pair fellows, or young people deemed at-risk for being involved in gun crime, with formerly incarcerated mentors. Other cities that have implemented Advance Peace pay fellows a stipend of roughly $1,000 per month, as well as bonuses for meeting agreed-upon goals like getting a driver’s license or passing the GED. Mentors will begin training this month, and fellows will enroll in the program later this fall. The pilot is being administered by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, which oversees myriad anti-violence programs that have grown in response to a surge in gun violence. “I [see] Advance Peace as an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is, investing in people who have been disinvested for generations,” said K. Bain, the executive director of a violence prevention nonprofit who is also helping coordinate Advance Peace with City Hall. Champe Barton has more on the program, and its challenging rollout, here — a partnership with The City.

Wait…I haven’t committed a violent crime. Where’s my money?

Ok, let’s get serious for a moment here. Programs like this are easy to make fun of. The question is, does it work, and if it does, is it worth the cost.

My inner libertarian looks at this and automatically wants to dismiss this. After all, why the hell are you paying tax dollars to people for not breaking the law? And if you’re going to do this, what about all those other people who aren’t breaking the law. You’re kind of taking a dump on them.

However, I need to remind myself that this is a targeted approach. These are people who are generally already problem people and the money is meant to serve as an incentive to keep them doing what they should be doing. In that way, it was like my report card money. I was supposed to study and do my homework because it was my responsibility, but the money motivated me to at least try and do that (spoiler: I didn’t, but that was just me).

If Advance Peace works, it could ultimately save the city billions. After all, if they’re getting GEDs instead of getting locked up, they’ll be able to pay their own way.

My concern here is whether $1,000 is going to make much of a difference considering how expensive New York City actually is. Will it be much of an incentive?

But, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it works or not.

Nov 26, 2021 10:30 AM ET