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• Syracuse’s mayor has introduced a proposal to pay people affiliated with gangs $100 to $200 a week as part of an effort to divert them from crime. The program would also include resources for mental health, education and career advancement.
• The program hasn’t yet been implemented, because the city council has not yet voted to approve it.
Are leaders in Syracuse, New York, considering paying gang members not to commit crimes? That’s what Will Barclay, the leader of the New York state Assembly Republican Conference, said in a recent tweet critical of the idea.
"Crime literally pays in New York," Barclay tweeted March 7. "A proposal in Syracuse would pay gang members $100-$200 per week to stay out of trouble. This is the surest sign that in the fight against crime, the criminals have won."
We can’t determine whether "the criminals have won," but we did want to verify whether Syracuse is considering a proposal to pay gang members to refrain from committing crimes.
We found that Barclay is right that local government leaders in Syracuse are considering this proposal. It hasn’t been implemented yet.
"At this time, there is no timeline for the program to be implemented as it will still need to be voted on – something the Common Council has not yet established a date to do," said Brooke Schneider, senior public information officer for the mayor.
Barclay’s office told PolitiFact New York that he was referring to a pilot program called the Community Violence Intervention Plan that the city’s mayor, independent Ben Walsh, announced in March. Walsh proposed the plan to the city’s Public Safety Common Council.
The $1 million plan is designed to reach 50 higher-risk people who identify as the drivers of gun violence in Syracuse. That’s about 4 percent of all residents who are associated with gangs.
Syracuse has a significant crime problem. The city had 32 homicides in 2020, 29 in 2021, and 18 in 2022. Adjusted for population, the homicide rate in Syracuse was more than three times higher than the rate for the U.S. as a whole and significantly higher than such cities as Boston, Los Angeles, and New York.
The proposal, citing data from the Central New York Crime Analysis Center, said gang-related homicides represented 34% homicides in the last decade in Syracuse and more than 50% during the past two years.
The Syracuse Violent Crime Assessment identified one of the main causes of homicide increases as "continuous social conflicts between gangs and groups of young people that spiral into gun violence."
The plan’s overall strategic goal is to reduce conflicts between gangs and groups of young people. It would include conflict management by outreach workers, mental health services, job training or school re-entry and mentorship.
The most unusual part would be a "stipend" of $100 to $200 per week.
"The primary purpose of this program is to alleviate their poverty condition," the proposal says. By providing participants with a stipend, "we will ensure that they have a stable source of income to cover their basic needs, allowing them to engage successfully in all other activities of this policy."
The condition for receiving the stipend is to avoid violent criminal behavior and engage in all other parts of the program.
Barclay said, "A proposal in Syracuse would pay gang members $100-$200 per week to stay out of trouble."
Syracuse’s mayor has introduced a proposal to pay people affiliated with gangs $100 to $200 a week as part of an effort to divert them from crime. The program would also include resources for mental health, education and career advancement.
The program hasn’t yet been implemented, because the city council has not yet voted to approve it.
The statement is accurate but needs additional context, so we rate it Mostly True.
William Barclay, tweet, March 7, 2023
Mayor Walsh’s office website, "Community Violence Intervention Plan," March 2023
Mayor Walsh’s office website, "The Facts: Overview of Community Violence Interruption Plan," March 2023
Office of the Mayor, "Community Violence Intervention Implementation Plan," January 2023
Rochester Institute of Technology College of Liberal Arts Center for Public Safety Initiatives, "2021 Homicide Statistics for 24 U.S Cities," Jan. 2022
Email Interview with Brooke Schneider, senior public iInformation officer with the city of Syracuse, March 20, 2023
Email Interview with Michael Fraser, director of communications for William Barclay, March 13, 2023
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