Want to Reduce Crime? Try Paying People

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For years, Richmond, California has had one of the nation's worst homicide rates. Despite pouring millions of dollars into anti-crime programs, there seemed to be no sign of the problem getting better.

Until 2007 when the city tried something new.

Richmond introduced a new program to improve relations between the community and law enforcement—the initiative wasn't so much a reform program, but a radical rethinking of how police treat the people most likely to commit or be victims of violent crimes.

With a bit of data-mining, and a bit of well-timed mentoring, the experimental Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) began concentrating its efforts on individuals who were most likely to end up as defendants and victims.

The ONS picked these individuals to be part of a class of "fellows" and offered them additional resources—and as much as $1,000 a month for avoiding dangerous behavior and staying on track with positive goals.

It may sound far-fetched, but so far the program's results are promising: In 2013, Richmond had the lowest number of homicides in 33 years.

Rohnell Robinson, a fellow in Richmond, California's Office of Neighborhood Safety Program, explains the program's impact on his own life.