- Richmond, California, has seen a dramatic drop in homicides since a fellowship began
- The fellowship invites hardened teens and young men to change their ways
- If they show good behavior, fellows can earn a stipend of up to $1,000 a month
Richmond, California (CNN)The four teens kick back and talk openly with their mentor. They discuss job opportunities, the need for support and the possibility of a trip out of state.
The San Francisco Bay Area city of Richmond, population 108,000, saw a record 47 gun homicides in 2007. In response, the city started hiring ex-cons and sending them into the worst neighborhoods.
The next year, the killings fell to 27 but then spiked again to 47 in 2009. This time, the city invited some of the most hardened youth into a fellowship, where they would be mentored by ex-cons and offered a cash stipend. Police were left out of the picture.
By 2014, gun homicides had fallen to 11, although they were back up to 21 last year after a staffing cut. Of the 68 youths who've been through the program, 94% are alive, and 79% have not been suspected of a new gun crime.