DC Democrat Pens Bill That Would Pay People Not to Commit Crimes

Legislation unanimously approved by D.C. Council

U.S. Capitol Police / CQ Roll Call via AP Images
February 2, 2016

The Council of the District of Columbia approved legislation Tuesday that would pay residents in the nation’s capital for not committing crimes.

First reported by the Associated Press, the bill penned by Democratic Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie gained unanimous approval from the D.C. Council. The legislation, called the "Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2016 (NEAR Act)," would establish an office to identify as many as 200 residents annually who are at risk of committing violent crimes or becoming a victim of such crimes.

The individuals would be instructed to participate in life planning, trauma informed therapy, and other programs; if they comply and do not commit crimes, the individuals would receive a stipend. The legislation was based on a Richmond, California, program that pays individuals who participate as much as $9,000 annually.

The D.C. program would cost $4.9 million over four years, the stipends alone adding up to $460,000 annually.

"The goal of the office will be to identify our teenagers and young adults at the highest risk for committing or being a victim of violent crimes, for participation in a stipend based program involving life planning, trauma­ informed therapy, and mentorship," a press release published by McDuffie’s office read.

"The program will require its participants to create and execute a successful life­plan, moving them away from the pitfalls of violent crime."

McDuffie wrote in a letter to constituents last week that the program would help prevent violent crime and gun violence in particular by "creating opportunities for people."