WK3 Participation 2: How Should We Deal With Violent Crime?

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WK3 Participation 2: How Should We Deal With Violent Crime?

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For this participation, we are going to listen to the radio! Or at least an online podcast that I first heard on the radio. Anyway…


This American Life: Crime Pays


(Links to an external site.)

Links to an external site.

Richmond, CA tried a controversial method of reducing gun violence in their city: paying criminals to not commit crimes. Sounds ridiculous, but it turns out it works, and much better than harsher policing and other more commonly used tactics. In this broadcast we will meet Sam Vaugn, a man whose job it is to monitor the criminals’ progress and keep them on track.

Your tasks:

1. Click on the link (or right-click and select “open in new tab”), and hit the play button just below the title “Crime Pays.”

2. Consider the following questions (

do not post answers to these, just think and consider as you listen


a. What information led the department to pursue this new approach?

b. How did the new task force – ONS – approach and treat the violent criminals?

c. Sam Vaugn is a neighborhood “change agent” for ONS. What does his work look like day-to-day?

d. Is the headline correct? Is this program only about paying people? Why or why not?

e. Many studies have noted that “poverty is expensive.” How does Cardell’s experience reflect this?

f. Does the task force provide enough financial assistance for the participants to completely give up all criminal activity?

g. Was the ONS program successful? Explain.

Answer and discuss the following questions in your post.

1. Our common approach to crime – aggressive police tactics, longer prison sentences, etc. – is based on certain assumptions about crime and criminals. The ONS approach – providing financial and emotional support for these folks to change their lives – also assumes certain things about crime and criminals. What are the assumptions in both approaches, and how do they differ?

2. Sam says that when it comes to changing your life, the easiest part of that is changing your mind about something, and believing it. According to him, what is the hardest part of changing your life, the part that is missing for the people he is serving?

3.Sam discusses how many people have negative reactions to the ONS program (the idea of “paying people who commit crimes”), and to the fact that he was able to get his college degree (and more) while he was in prison. What do you think of his answer to these reactions? What are your thoughts after hearing this program?


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