As America's ninth most dangerous city in 2007, Richmond, California, needed a new way to fight crime. The resulting tactic has been unorthodox, but it may be working, writes Tim Murphy at Mother Jones. Four times per year, by combining police data and internal intelligence, the city's Office of Neighborhood Safety identifies 50 people considered most likely to shoot another person or to be shot themselves. It then invites the most at-risk to join its 18-month program, which includes mentoring and a monthly stipend of $300 to $1,000 for nine of those months. Mentors help enrollees, who are all under age 25, with anything from getting a GED to coming up with the money to train as a merchant mariner.
The city funds the program in partnership with private companies such as health care firm Kaiser Permanente. The idea was spearheaded by DeVone Boggan, a Michigan man who, as a kid, was caught selling drugs. "I desperately needed strong, caring, and consistent adults who were willing to take a risk in believing in me," he says. The program's coordinators are mostly ex-convicts themselves. They work by patrolling neighborhoods and gathering information on the at-risk people before meeting them and pitching the program. Is it working? Well, last year, Richmond saw fewer homicides than it had in 33 years, and 65 of 68 enrollees in the program over 47 months have survived. But other crime-fighting efforts may deserve credit, too. Click for the full piece.