California City Will Pay Kids, But Not For The Reasons You Would Think

One California city has decided to pay money to kids, using tax dollars, of course. The state isn’t paying them to succeed in school, to be successful in the work place, or for their hard work. This payment is for one reason and one reason only, and it’s actually more than just a little scary.

Richmond, California thinks that paying teens to not do certain things, such as break the law and kill people, is actually the way to go. Since laws to stop them from acting out isn’t enough, the city of Richmond thinks teenagers need a stronger motivator. So, in comes the already immensely indebted State to the rescue. In the words of good ole Ronald Reagan, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” and this is proving that more true than ever before.

“Help us get out of Richmond and stuff,” one teen mumbled in a group. “Get us far away.” The city responded, but not how one would think.

This is no ordinary group. The mentor is an ex-con working for the city. The teens are suspected of the worst types of crimes but haven’t faced prosecution, for lack of evidence. The mentor’s job: Get them to put down their guns, stop their violent ways and transform their lives beyond the streets.

“They’re babies growing up in a war zone,” says DeVone Boggan. “But the police would tell you they’re killers. ‘Serial killer’ is what a police officer might call some of these young men, because of what they’re suspected of doing.” [via CNN]

Richmond, a city of about 100,000 just north of Berkeley, experienced a spike in violence in 2007, resulting in the deaths of 47 residents. By comparison, Oakland saw 30 killings per 100,000 residents that year; Chicago had nearly 16 per 100,000. The government assumed it was their job to do something more about it — even though their anti-gun legislation was more likely than not a primary cause.

After the 2007 statistics, the city decided a drastic approach was needed, and Boggan helped found the innovative city agency, the Office of Neighborhood Safety or ONS. When 2009 saw just as many killings after a brief drop, they decided to expand their program, rather than recognize it as a failure, and Operation Peacemaker was born.

Now, Richmond is paying kids not to kill. Actually, they are paying them for a pledge — to the tune of up to $1,000 a month. So, just claim you won’t kill anyone and you get a nice chunk of change for those meaningless words. Isn’t that nice?

"Neighborhood Change Agent" James Houston
“Neighborhood Change Agent” James Houston

Neighborhood change agent James Houston served 18 years in San Quentin State Prison. He says it’s important to help the youth not make the same bad choices he did. So, the kids are paid to say they will behave, instead of being expected not to murder or steal.

Seems legit, considering the rapid decline of morality in the country. If governments can throw away money, they will, and it doesn’t seem to matter who ends up on the short end of these deals.