Is SF program paying high-risk people not to shoot others a good idea?


Fact Box

  • San Francisco is expected to start the Dream Keeper Fellowship in October of 2021, which will pay 10 at-risk participants $300 a month to be “public safety ambassadors.” The program is funded by some tax payer dollars, private donations, and a federal grant. 
  • The Fellowship will include a vetting process with interviews, referrals, and assessments for each participant. In the program, chosen individuals will be required to hit benchmarks, like attending parole meetings. 
  • On Monday, July 13, 2021, San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott and Mayor London Breed reported that gun violence is running high compared to 2019 and 2020. There were 26 homicides by mid-year and 119 shootings, more than half from the previous years. 
  • America has 120.5 guns per 100 people, which amounts to about 393,347,000 guns—the highest per capita worldwide.

Andrew (Yes)

San Francisco, amongst many other cities, is experiencing a wave of gun crime. In the first half of the year alone, there were 119 reported gun crime victims, approximately double the number reported during the same months of the previous year. This shows that the current system of easy access to guns with only potential prison time as a deterrent isn’t working to curb gun violence. San Francisco’s leaders are right to try innovative programs like the Dream Keeper Fellowship. It’s a novel approach that starts out incredibly small, with only ten individuals receiving the three hundred dollars a month payment. This costs the city almost nothing but has the potential to add immense value to the individuals affected and the community where it is taking place. Further, by starting the program small and carefully reviewing the results, San Francisco’s leaders will hopefully gain insight into truly effective strategies and be able to scale up incredibly nuanced programs in the future.

This program is exactly the type of forward-thinking and actionable approach that will hopefully turn the tide of gun violence in America. The Dream Keeper Fellowship aims to reduce gun violence by looking at its root causes: poverty and hopelessness. Instead of using only punishments for potential offenders, this program will encourage high-risk individuals to rethink their role in the community and offer another path. In addition to the payments for nonviolence, individuals will work with the city’s Street Violence Intervention Program life coaches to become community ambassadors, immediately impacting those in their social networks. 


Elliot (No) 

Paying people not to shoot each other is dehumanizing, illogical, ineffective, and bound to incentivize 'high-risk' behavior rather than prevent it. This is an obvious example of the 'carrot and stick' approach that is effective for training animals, but this approach is demonstrably ineffective when dealing with humans, as it approaches them like one would an animal. Treatment like this is dehumanizing. The people involved with this societal experiment are complex and require more thoughtful holistic strategies. 

This is a clear example of government overreach and gross ineptitude. Where will the money for these payments come from? It will come from you, the taxpayer. More of these ridiculous programs will make citizens owing more to government bureaucracies. More poverty creates more crime, perpetuating the circumstances liberal policies like this say they wish to avoid. Americans would be better off if the government would step back and refrain from micromanaging everything with its ineffective social programs. If someone really wants to kill another person, do you think they'd be convinced to put down the gun in exchange for a couple of hundred bucks? 

In addition, this sets a dangerous precedent for the future. Just as this policy proposal is impractical, so is the notion of the government paying people not to drink and drive, or not to assault their spouses, or not to shoplift. At a certain point, people should take responsibility for their behavior and face the consequences. While San Francisco has the right to implement new laws within the democratic process, these laws are misguided and ultimately unjust to society on the whole.

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