Fareed Zakaria, Global Public Square, MSNBC Broadcast 02.28.16

Transcribed by Hilbert Morales, El Observador

Do you think ‘payment to likely criminals not to commit crimes’ sounds crazy? Well, Washington, D.C., may begin doing just that! Fareed Zakaria, moderator, Global Public Square, MSNBC weekly program (7:00 AM, Sundays), reports that Washington, D.C. may do just that after its database revealed that its murder rate went up 54% over the prior year (2013). “The Washington, D.C. City Council recently voted (passed) for a crime bill which includes a provision to give money to those who are most likely to commit acts of violence.” Some 200 individuals receive payments in conjunction with agreements to undergo ‘mentorship and therapy’ (probably mental and/or behavior modification therapy).

“Criticism of this proposal has been withering as one might imagine.” reported Zakaria. This proposal may not be implemented. But here is another crazy fact. “Another city has run a similar program for several years, paying out ‘tens of thousands of dollars’ and it appears to be working.”

“In 2007, the San Francisco Bay Area city of Richmond, CA was the 9th most dangerous city in the United States. Things were so bad, the Richmond City officials considered calling in the CA National Gurad to be sent in. Instead, (Richmond) created the “Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS)”, a new department separate from law enforcement, that would focus on reaching out in the community with a focus on reduction of gun violence.

The ONS Head. Mr. Logan discovered a game changing data point a few years in: During 2009, about 70% of all gun violence was caused by only 28 individuals! If one could reach those 28 individuals, Logan thought, then one could bring down the crime rate. So, Logan and his team spent weeks trying to find those 28 young men. He gathered 24 of the 28 in an unlikely City Hall meeting where a ‘deal’ was offered…Join a multifaceted program of mentoring and therapy known as “The Peacemaker Fellowship”. If they stayed with this fellowship program for six (6) months, they would get paid as much as $1,000 per month over the next nine months that followed. All of them accepted this ‘deal’ and the results have been remarkable. Of the 68 individuals who have participated in this Peacemaker Fellowship program since 2009, 79% have not been suspects in any gun violence case. Remember that these (individuals) are the worst of the worst in Richmond, CA. What’s more since Logan’s ONS was created, homicides have plummeted during 2007 to 2014. Firearm assaults have also fallen dramatically during that sane period.”

“But what about the costs? The doling out of thousands of dollars to would be criminals, Logan argues that the cost of his program (ONS) is ‘chump change’ when compared to the current price tag for gun violence.”

“In 2015 Mother Jones published a fascinating investigation breaking down the costs of American gun shootings…from hospitalization to legal fees to imprisonment. Each gun homicide case cost taxpayers almost $400,000 on average (per event/incident).”

“The total cost of gun homicides/violence including the financial impact on victims, totaled $229 billion per year (in 2012). More expensive than obesity; and just a bit less than Federal Medicaid program spending. Richmond’s ONC program, per Logan, spent only $70,000 per year on all of its Peacemaker Fellowship Program.”

“But what about the moral ethical and logic? Should we (society) be paying people to be virtuous? Logan argues that if anyone needs the extra help, it is the forgotten members in this ONS program. These forgotten members of society have hardly any support from parents, neighbors, schools or their community. Besides let’s face it, the current approach to crime…Is it really working? Maybe we need this innovative idea and approach to save taxpayers lots of money and American lives.∆

EO Publisher-Emeritus comment: This innovative Office of Public Safety is worthy of being implemented in Santa Clara County and the City of San Jose. Who would be against its implementation? Probably the Correctional Officers union and the associations representing Deputy Sheriffs and local police. It certainly would not be the taxpayer or the families of those alleged criminals (the forgotten members of society).