D.C. City Council Passes Bill to Pay Residents Not to Break the Law

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

The city council of the District of Columbia thinks it just might have the best way to stop a rising crime rate: Pay residents not to commit crimes.

Early this week, the city council unanimously passed a bill that would pay residents a stipend not to break the law. The council insisted the plan is a worthy expenditure of $4.9 million of the taxpayer’s dollars.

The bill’s author, Democratic D.C. Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, claims the plan would curb violent crime and reverse last year’s 54 percent increase in murders.

Under the plan, each year, officials would pick 200 residents who are deemed to be at the greatest risk for committing or becoming victims of violent crime and put them in behavioral therapy and other programs. Once they complete the programs, they will be paid their stipend.

McDuffie insisted the $9,000 a year in stipends would “pale” in comparison to the cost of citizens being victimized, not to mention the costs associated with incarcerating offenders.

“I want to prevent violent crime–particularly gun violence–by addressing the root causes and creating opportunities for people, particularly those individuals who are at the highest risks of offending,” McDuffie told constituents last week.

The program is modeled after one that is now in effect in Richmond, California. The Richmond program has been hailed as a solution to the city’s crime rates, but even left-wing Mother Jones magazine had to admit that there isn’t any proof to show the program has actually lowered Richmond’s crime rate.

Whatever the merits of the bill, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser has not announced whether she would allow the program to be funded out of the city’s existing budget. If she does not do so, the council will have to figure out a way to fund the program with new taxes or make budget cuts equal to the expenditure.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston, or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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