A Hired Gun

When I taught at a pretty rough high school in Brooklyn, one of my colleagues would regularly argue that we should incentivize students by paying them to stay out of trouble, do their homework, and perform well on tests. (He also once threw a chair out a fifth floor window to motivate our Mock Trial team.) At the time, the idea of paying kids to promote and reward achievement was considered outlandish. But today, a similar — and even more extreme — program, aimed at turning around violent offenders, is starting to spread from Richmond to other crime-ridden cities across the country. The program is as simple as it is controversial. First, identify the people most likely to commit violent crimes. Second, pay them not to commit those crimes and to dissuade other potential criminals. “In Richmond, the city has hired ex-convicts to mentor dozens of its most violent offenders and allows them to take unconventional steps if it means preventing the next homicide.” From WaPo: When cities pay criminals not to kill.

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