DC Bill Would Pay People Stipends Not to Commit Crimes

Ben Nuckols, AP, February 2, 2016

They say crime doesn’t pay, but that might not be entirely true in the District of Columbia as lawmakers look for ways to discourage people from becoming repeat offenders.

The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a bill that includes a proposal to pay residents a stipend not to commit crimes. It’s based on a program in Richmond, California, that advocates say has contributed to deep reductions in crime there.

Under the bill, city officials would identify up to 200 people a year who are considered at risk of either committing or becoming victims of violent crime. Those people would be directed to participate in behavioral therapy and other programs. If they fulfill those obligations and stay out of trouble, they would be paid.

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Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, a Democrat who wrote the legislation, said it was part of a comprehensive approach to reducing violent crime in the city, which experienced a 54 percent increase in homicides last year. {snip}

McDuffie argued that spending $9,000 a year in stipends “pales in comparison” to the cost of someone being victimized, along with the costs of incarcerating the offender.

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Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has not committed to funding the program, which would cost $4.9 million over four years, including $460,000 a year in stipend payments, according to the District’s independent chief financial officer. {snip}

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