You probably have been laboring under the assumption that the purpose of the justice system was to deter people from committing crime. Apparently, some legislators think otherwise.
Suppose you’re a desperate inner city person living well below the poverty line and faced with the prospect of having to pay rent on time either by securing gainful employment or by resorting to crime.
As you well know, for many the allure of easy money through drug sales or theft, unfortunately, proves too powerful in many cases. Crime, I don’t have to tell you, has been a problem for as long as humans have striven toward forming civilizations.
The answer has always been the application of crime prevention through police patrol and the use of deterrents in the form of punishments of various kinds. To date, crime prevention as described- in concert with education programs intended to make crime unnecessary for young people has been humanity’s best solution to the problem of criminal deviance.
But some lawmakers now have it in their heads that there is another option- a kinder option- an option that is paid for, ultimately by… guess who? You, the taxpayer. These Washington legislators have put forth a bill that, if approved, will pay would-be criminals a stipend not to commit crimes.
The bill is similar to one also on the table in Richmond, California, created with the idea of paying off, “individuals, who pose a high risk of participating in, or being a victim of, violent criminal activity.”
The bill seeks funding to be set aside to be offered to as many as 50 individuals each year. These individuals targeted for the program would be paid to follow a program “involving life planning, trauma-informed therapy, and mentorship.”
This effort is just part of a whole package of crime prevention measures which fall under the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2016 and received unanimous approval from the District Council just last week. The Council will perform a final vote on the bill on the first of March before moving on to the mayor, and then to Congress.
Kenyan R. McDuffie, of the District Council, said, “The bill that we passed is a comprehensive crime bill that is seeking to target the root causes of crime.”
Even if you accept that the motivation is genuine, the concept of paying people- people known to be highly likely to commit crimes to begin with- using public funds, not to commit those crimes is an insult to honest people. The stipend, which will come out of the pockets of taxpayers- not including the total cost of the program which the public will also have to pay for- is a tidy $9,000 USD.
You’re a law abiding citizen, no doubt, and probably have been one all your life. You ask yourself, what sacrifices do we all make every day just in the exertion in self control in order to be decent, law abiding citizens?
Had it ever occurred to you that you could be paid not to commit crimes? Of course not.
Don’t get any ideas though, because no matter how much you might need the money, you don’t just get it for staying honest. First, you have to be shown to be likely to have criminal intentions- and how does one do that? By committing crimes, of course.
The program is modeled on rigorous studies which have shown that people can be better motivated by positive rewards than by the threat of punishment. What it does not address is the abuse of the program by those who have no intention of bettering themselves, but only jumping through hoops for easy money, and it does not address the fact that, ultimately- taxpayers will receive the bill for these programs which no taxpayer has had the opportunity to vote on.
This is a clear case of taxation without representation. But if you think you will take action to pressure lawmakers to reject this new liberal assault on American values- well it’s a bit late for that.
You see, they’ve already been running this program as a study for the full-fledged version. The test program has already graduated nearly 70 participants, and because it was a test, it already had funding set aside for it. That means, you’ve been paying for the pilot program for the even more expensive program that’s now, less than one month from its next step toward Capitol Hill.
The program is considered a success in California, because rather than robbing a convenience store for a few hundred dollars, participants have been able to bilk the system for thousands of dollars. This is considered a success, and time has shown that if it “works” in California, it’s only a matter of time before it worms its way to the nation’s capital.