Sacramento City Council Votes to Pay Gang Members $1.5 million Not to Kill People-Truth! & Misleading!

Summary of eRumor:

The Sacramento City Council unanimously approved implementing a program that will pay gang members $1.5 million not to shoot people.

The Truth:

The Sacramento City Council approved a program that will give a monthly stipend, job training and mentorship to young men who are most likely to commit gun violence — but key parts of the “Advance Peace” program — like how much participants will be paid — have been misrepresented.

The Sacramento City Council unanimously approved an agreement to implement the Advance Peace program on August 29, 2017. The council was slated to take up the measure in September, but it was moved up after gang violence in Sacramento left one person dead and four people injured within a 24-hour span on August 26th.

The agreement calls for Sacramento to pay $1.5 million from the general fund to cover half the program’s operating costs over a three-year period. The other half of the budget will be covered by private foundations through the Advance Peace nonprofit group. Although city officials voted in favor of the agreement on August 29th, city officials hadn’t finalized it at the time of publication.

Those who enter the 18-month fellowship program agree to work toward personal goals like earning a high school diploma, becoming a better parent, undergoing job training and not engaging in criminal behavior. In exchange, they’re eligible to receive a monthly stipend of up to $1,000 per month for nine months — but only after they successfully complete the first six months of the 18-month program, the Sacramento City Council reports:

Each participant is provided an opportunity to earn up to $1,000 per month for 9-months of the 18-month fellowship. The participants can earn the resource as a result of intensive engagement and accomplishment of personal goals. The funds used for the stipends are provided through private foundation dollars. Goals may include addressing drug or alcohol abuse, getting a high school diploma or improving parenting skills.

With the approval, the City is committing $1.5 million over three years. The money is being matched by private foundations that support Advance Peace’s effort to replicated the program in other cities. According to Muttaqi, the estimated government cost of every homicide is more than $1 million, which includes the cost of investigation, prosecution and years of incarceration.

Advance Peace will target about 50 people who are at high risk for committing or being a victim of gun violence. Given that the program offers up to $9,000 in cash payments to each person ($1,000 per month over a nine-month period), total cash payments made through through the program would total $450,000. Operating costs would account for the remainder of the program’s $3 million, three-year budget.

After news that the city had unanimously approved the Advance Peace agreement, however, the story was picked up by blog sites across the country — some of which mischaracterized key details. The blog site Blue Lives Matter, for example, published a report under the misleading headline, “Sacramento City Council Votes Unanimously To Pay Gang Members $1.5 Million To Not Kill People.”

The headline makes it sound like Sacramento will hand over $1.5 million to gang members — but that’s not the case. Again, total cash payments are expected to total about $450,000 over three years. The remainder of the program’s budget will go toward things like administrative costs, job training, educational offerings, mentorship and monitoring. Also, program organizers argue that young men are paid to help them get their lives together — not “to not kill people.”

And a number of reports on the Advance Peace program fail to mention that it has helped reduce the homicide rate in Richmond, California, by more than 50 percent since 2007, ABC News reports:

In 2007, the city brought in DeVone Boggan, a youth development policy professional with an expertise in chronic violent offenders and the founder of the Office of Neighborhood Safety, who came up with a controversial solution: Pay young men like Rice not to pull the trigger. The better the behavior, the better the paycheck.

…Boggan said the program is not about paying people to not kill somebody, but instead about paying them so they can “get their lives together,” and he said preventing violence ultimately costs society less, reducing city expenses for law enforcement, hospital bills and incarceration.

Advance Peace contributed to a 50-percent drop in homicides in Richmond through 2015. In 2016, however, Richmond saw another uptick in homicides and violent crimes. The East Bay Times reports that the spike coincided with budget cuts that led to fewer police on the streets and fewer support services:

The recent spike in killings comes less than two years after the city’s long war against violent crime hit a high point, with its annual homicide total plunging to 11 in 2014, the lowest on record dating to 1973. After earning a reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in America, with homicides routinely exceeding 40 per year, this city of more than 100,000 saw killings dip under 20 each year from 2012-14.

But the trend has reversed the past two years, and while the homicide numbers are still nowhere near the crisis years of the 1990s and 2000s, the uptick — 31 percent compared with this time last year — comes at a time when an ongoing budget crisis has forced cuts to police and an innovative city program credited for helping reduce street violence.

But the homicides appear to be anomaly, as violent crime is down overall by 12 percent and property crimes down by 17 percent so far this year.

In the end, it’s true that the Sacramento City Council approved an agreement to pay gang members to not commit violence and to get their lives together. But key details — like how much high-risk individuals can get paid — have been misrepresented in some accounts. That’s why we’re calling this one “truth” and “misleading.”

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

Collected on: 09/06/2017
Sacramento paying gang members
Social media users react to reports that Sacramento City Council has voted to pay gang members $1.5 million to not kill people.