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California city’s daring approach to gun violence: Stipends

Gun violence has become an increasingly hot-button topic in the United States in recent years, with California one of the hardest-hit. But one California city has been trying a new tactic, with startling results. (Bart Everson/Flickr/cc)

Cities plagued with violent crime usually follow a similar pattern. Stepped-up patrols. Police raids. Arrests. Tim Murphy reports for Mother Jones on a bold solution being tried out in Richmond, Calif.: pay at-risk youths to stay out of trouble.

Municipal leaders in this city of just over 100,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area were desperate to curb the violence. Richmond grappled with one of the nation’s highest homicide rates. A low point came in 2007, when there were 45 gun-related deaths, the article says. Beefed-up law enforcement failed to make a dent.  

Consultants hired by the city settled on a radical idea. What if residents most prone to violence received stipends to turn their lives around? In 2007, the city teamed with the private sector to launch an Office of Neighborhood Safety to oversee the initiative. Murphy writes that “street teams” combed police records and mined data to find the city’s roughest — and offer them a slot.

The results, Mother Jones says, have been staggering. In 2013, there were 15 homicides per 100,000, the lowest in more than three decades. The rate decreased again for 2014. A new study, available here, documents the program’s impact.

Mother Jones

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