San Francisco is launching a program in October that will offer cash to people in exchange for not shooting anyone amid rising gun crime, an effort critics have called “cash for criminals.”
Sheryl Davis, executive director of the Human Rights Commission, told Newsweek this week that the “small investments” have the power to “transform the lives of individuals, but they can also transform communities.”
Through a partnership between the Human Rights Commission and Office of Economic and Workforce Development, the Dream Keeper Fellowship will provide $300 each month to 10 people who are considered at high risk of being involved in a shooting.
The program is funded through the Dream Keeper Initiative, an effort designed to redirect funding to the black community.
“It’s not necessarily as cut and dry as folks may think. It’s not as transactional as, ‘Here’s a few dollars so that you don’t do something bad,’ but it really is about how you help us improve public safety in the neighborhood,” Davis said.
Program participants will work with life coaches from San Francisco’s Street Violence Intervention Program and will become “community ambassadors.” Participants could also receive an additional $200 each month through a number of avenues, including working, attending school or acting as a mediator in possibly violent situations.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, participants will be paid with gift cards and will be monitored.
“As you become better, your community benefits from that,” Davis said.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed advocated for the program during an August speech at a Violence Prevention Summit hosted by the Human Rights Commission.
“My desire is to get to them, not to just make an arrest, but to get to them and to try and figure out if they would be willing to work with us on something that is an alternative,” Breed said. “We can’t just put them in a program without making sure that they have money, without making sure that they have something to take care of themselves.”
Those who object to the program have highlighted similar efforts that failed, including the Washington Examiner’s David Freddoso, who wrote in an op-ed, “It was also tried in Sacramento, where its promoters boast that ‘only’ 44% of participants were subsequently arrested on new charges — well, as long as you don’t count about one-third of the participants who dropped out or were arrested in its first six months. (D’oh!)”
“Violent criminals need jail. They do not need cash. People who shoot other people need to be walled off in prisons and kept away from the rest of us,” he added.