A few years ago, the city of Richmond, California, embarked on a radical new approach to gun violence. Instead of simply arresting, prosecuting, and jailing its shooters, it started helping them. It formed a fellowship program, introduced intensive mentoring, and asked these “high risk individuals” to agree to wide-ranging life-goals.
The strategy appears to be working. Since 2007—the year it launched its Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS)—there’s been a 76% reduction in firearm-related homicides and a 66% reduction in firearm-related assaults. Helping young men break a cycle of hopelessness and nihilism gets results, officials say.