Paying Criminals: Are We Taking Crazy Pills?

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Paying Criminals: Are We Taking Crazy Pills?

So coincidentally, the title of the new ebook that just came out is called “You Can't Make This Stuff Up” (shameless plug: BUY IT NOW). Coincidentally, it seems that all across the social/political spectrum these days I find examples of things that are taking place that you wouldn't expect to see in the fevered dreams of a deluded mad man, things that make me say to myself “You couldn't make this up if you tried”.
 
What do I mean? Well, for example, Washington D.C. officials are considering implementing a program in which repeat offenders and/or those deemed likely to be victimized by violence (read: consumers of the drug trade) are paid up to $9,000 annually to not commit crimes.
Now, at first blush I know that sounds ridiculous (and it is). But the part that really got me screaming “WTF, OVER?!” was the idea that the program would be independent of any police involvement. The participants would be “anonymous” except to, of course, the administrators of the program. Folks, I don't know much, and I certainly make no claims about being the smartest guy around, but of what I DO know, I know very well from years of experience. And two things I know specifically about ideas like this: Government run programs of this type are always full of loopholes and are run inefficiently, and criminals are always looking for ways to game the system and make an extra buck on the sly. You can bet that 10 out of 10 people who are “repeat offenders” have learned that “the system” does not often hold people accountable. Trust me, I've seen almost every abuse of government programs you can imagine (my favorite: the people who get their family and friends to use their EBT cards to buy supplies to throw a barbecue to raise bond money).

Now, can you imagine a system in which the police don't know who is part of this “commit no crimes” stipend program and the administrators of the program are the arbiters of who gets the money and, more importantly, who gets kicked off the program? What incentive would there be for a well-paid bureaucrat to boot people from the program? Without police involvement, what mechanism is in place to alert the person who holds the purse strings that one of their charges has been picked up on a new offense? Sheer lunacy, people. 

The entire premise of programs like this is founded upon an ever-increasing lack of emphasis on personal responsibility, coupled with a ballooning reach of government. While the goal is noble (lower crime) is positive, the means leave much to be desired. Supposedly such a program was tried in a California city and a subsequent drop in murders was recorded. But as the saying goes, “correlation does not equal causation”, and no definitive link was found between the program and the murder rate. Which makes sense, because most killings are between people who know each other and aren't likely to be influenced by an outside program putting a whopping $9K a year into a potential killer's pocket. The mentality of the hardened repeat offender goes something like this: “I'll get away with killing this guy AND I'll get my check from the government.”

I have my own proposal for a crime reduction program, one that could be implemented nationwide. How about we hold people accountable for their actions? How about we prevent people from becoming “repeat offenders” by giving less lenient plea deals and giving people the kind of prison time that is on the books for the crimes they commit? I can personally attest to the fact that of all the people I've helped send to prison, literally 100% of them have committed no crimes in my jurisdiction for the period they were locked up. That is a statistic I can get behind.

We have to get over the fact that it costs money to incarcerate felons and the cockamamie idea that by having them out on the street we're somehow not still paying, because we are. We're paying in hospital bills, lives, time, money to replace property and pay overtime to cops. Do we really need to put cash in the pockets of the kind of people who are already draining the system? It's time we stop voluntarily shouldering the financial and moral burden of criminals and make THEM pay for their crimes. What a concept.
(Photo credit: AMC Networks)

1 comment

  • K. K.

    Hi Ted the Cop,

    I just happened to stumble across this blog (in particular the post titled ’Seven Lessons Learned by a Cop without a Badge) thanks to LinkedIn. I am not in the force but my uncle is.

    This first thing I thought when I read this post is that the fact that the government would pay criminals to not commit crimes isn’t farfetched. Murders don’t all serve life sentences, neither do rapists and neither do violent offenders. What if they (the violent offenders) got thrown in the slam for the rest of their lives each and every time instead of someone pulling some bullshit number out of a hat?

    Oh, they shouldn’t? One of the main reasons criminals commit so much crime is because they know they will receive a slap on the wrist AT BEST. If the system wasn’t so selective about who actually pays for committing crimes in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Unfortunately, the folks floating these ideas aren’t normal civilians, they live in gated communities where everyone has to pass a background check.

    Hell, they probably have surveillance on every street corner and armed guards walking around. The rest of us have to deal with the fact that criminals are living all around us and if someone decides to maim or kill us they’ll get away with a few months or years when they should spend their life in lockup with like minded individuals.

    I’m just an average minority citizen and this is how I feel. I get so sick and tired of knowing that a rapist or repeat murderer is just two houses down. It’s sickening.

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