- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Reread the headline, please.

The D.C. Council gave preliminary approval yesterday to legislation that would pay pre-criminals and pre-victims a stipend. The payment would turn on a dime — more accurately, 90,000 dimes — because the bill mandates the at-risk participants attend behavior therapy and the like.

The 90,000 dimes come from the baseline $9,000 stipend that D.C. folks would be paid, the same as participants in a similar program in Richmond, California.

That D.C. lawmakers are even considering such a proposal is as crazy as the proposal itself.

For starters, the D.C. legislation totally ignores any type of moral argument.

For another thing, the legislation is void of any civic argument. While a pre-criminal may be a part of the larger D.C. community, he can say he felt disconnected from Maryland, so that’s why he burgled a house there.

The legislation also totally ignores any type of ethics. And that perhaps explains why a smart white guy who was abused as a youth admits to being a serial pedophile while in group therapy. (Shush. It’s all confidential. Nobody’s going to tell the authorities.)

The legislation also presumes all people are predisposed to criminality. That the devil decides our fate.

These outrageous legislative aspects are a joke, and they are a joke because some aspects of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act (NEAR) are contradictions of what is purported to be anti-crime legislation.

Comprehensive anti-crime legislation is supposed to give civil society, the justice system and the public at large the upper hand in preventing crime and punishing the bad guys. And while parts of the bill OK’d Tuesday by the D.C. Council do just that, the crime bill, as it stands, doesn’t pass law-and-order muster.

Another contradiction is that Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, the Ward 5 Democrat who proposed the measure, said this: “The goal will be to identify our teenagers and young adults at the highest risk for committing or being a victim of violent crimes, for participation in a stipend-based program involving life planning, trauma informed therapy and mentorship.”

Meanwhile, the bill says participants will remain anonymous and will receive the stipends if they stay crime-free.

What?

Again, D.C. residents commit crimes in other states. How would the city keep track of them and know that they are crime-free if the participants are anonymous?

NEAR won unanimous approval, which means none of the 13 jokers, er, lawmakers, read the legislation and actually comprehend what it means.

They do, however, know the fiscal consequences of the legislation. At Tuesday’s reading, it was explained that the stipends could be as much as $9,000 a year for about 200 D.C. residents, at a total cost of $460,000, and the D.C. Office of the Chief Financial Officer estimated the program’s full cost at $4.9 million over four years.

Yet even that’s a joke. The costs of government giveaways always rise.

The saving grace? The bill only won preliminary approval.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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