Sacramento leaders have signed a contract to launch a controversial gun-violence reduction program in an effort to convince dangerous young men to give up their homicidal lifestyles, the Sacramento Bee reports. The city committed to a four-year, $1.5 million contract with Advance Peace, a program that targets “shooters,” often black or Latino, who are most likely to commit or be the victims of gun violence.
The program pairs those men with older community members – often reformed former gang members or felons themselves – in an effort to guide the shooters out of criminal pursuits. Advance Peace has generated controversy because it provides payments to gun criminals for completing specific programs intended to reform their ways. The stipends are backed by outside philanthropic funds, not city money.
Mayor Darrell Steinberg said there have been 36 gang-related homicides this year in Sacramento, and more than 1,000 arrests in gun-related crimes. Advance Peace is credited by supporters with reducing gun violence in Richmond, Ca. An independent review by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency found 83 percent of fellows who participated have avoided injury by a firearm since going through the program and 77 percent haven’t had a new firearm charge or arrest. Richmond also saw a 57 percent drop in gang-related gun homicides and a 51 percent drop in gun-related assaults in the six-year period from 2010 to 2016 when Advance Peace was operating, compared to the previous six years.
Critics say Advance Peace pays violent criminals not to shoot guns. Participants can receive $9,000 stipends during an 18-month period for reaching goals such as successfully completing substance abuse treatment or completing education.