Paying criminals to stay out of trouble

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 08:17 GMT, May 27, 2016 |

Last week, the shooting death of a pregnant woman in Toronto shocked the community. But Toronto is not the only Canadian city struggling with mounting gun violence.

As gun-related deaths rise, Canadian communities may look to Richmond, California, for a different kind of approach in handling these crimes — the program is called the Office of Neighbourhood Safety. The ONS offers guidance, job training and employment to ex-convicts, and pays them to turn their lives around.

Devone Boggan, Office of Neighbourhood Safety founder and director, says the common denominator of ONS members is their upbringing. Typically they have been around not only violence, but a mindset that they are alone in their community, leaving them feeling a responsibility to protect or retaliate — with firearms.

“They are babies growing up in war zones,” Boggan says.

Jooyoung Lee, who specializes in researching gun violence, says he supports the Office of Neighbourhood Safety program due to its non-punitive measures. While critics have said the aspect of payment from the ONS is tantamount to rewarding criminal behaviour, Lee calls such views “cynical.”