Watch CBS News

San Francisco Mayor: New Program's Financial Incentives Are Not 'Cash for Criminals'

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- As calls for criminal justice reform turn from call to action to policy, a new program in San Francisco that could provide cash payments as an incentive for reducing gun violence and crime is bound to turn heads.

The program -- called the Dream Keeper Fellowship -- includes elements that may be jaw dropping to some. The plan is aimed at helping curb gun violence in San Francisco, which has seen a spike in recent months as the pandemic has worn on.

Part of that proposal involves giving cash to people who could potentially find themselves in trouble and committing crimes.

But proponents argue it is more than than that. They say it stands as another attempt at universal basic income targeting a specific group.

"In many cases, sadly, the common denominator is that these folks do not have any sort of income. And so part of what we're trying to do is make sure that money is not a barrier to turning your life around," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

The incentives could equal up to $500 a month on gift cards if all of the benchmarks -- like attending parole appointments and finding a job -- are met. It is modeled after, among others, Richmond's program, which was found to have decreased gun violence 55%.

"The first work is showing up, being present, being engaged. And we want to remove the barriers that people have to show up to something, right?" said Sheryl Davis, director of San Francisco's Human Rights Commission. "Like if it's about the cost of transportation, if it's the cost of lunch -- those things. What we're trying to do is minimize the barriers to show up. And then once people show up, if they do the work, then they can get additional dollars."

Officials say the program's participants will not be selected without vetting. There will be an interview, referral and assessment process to make sure those chosen are prepared to make a change.

The program is part of Mayor Breed's plan to start transitioning some policing dollars back into neighborhoods of color to stop problems before they start. She is adamant that this is simply not cash for criminals.

"We're looking at ways in which we can provide incentives; incentives to keep them motivated, to keep them searching for a better opportunity is what this program is about. The data shows that when you provide people with opportunities, that could change somebody's life," said Mayor London Breed.

Part of the theory behind the new program is getting upstream of crime before it actually happens, so the city is not spending far more money afterwards cleaning up the mess.

The San Francisco program is set to kick off in October.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.