STOCKTON — A meeting between Stockton clergy members and the founder of Advance Peace met Tuesday to discuss the controversial crime prevention program.
The program seeks to help people, identified by law enforcement as being likely to engage in gun violence, stay out of trouble. Help as mentoring, internships or even stipends.
“We’re providing a stipend for young men who are working hard to get their lives together,” Advance Peace founder DeVone Boggan said.
But Boggan said the program is not just about the stipend, but the relationships “fellows” build with their mentors and keeping them out of trouble.
Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs faced heavy criticism when he announced he wanted to bring the program, already in place in Richmond, to Stockton.
“We believe this will actually help us see our numbers decrease and, if we can do that, that means there are going to be lives that are going to be saved,” Boggan said.
Stockton clergy like Pastor Curtis Smith praised the program, but critics say Richmond’s problems are not the same as Stockton’s.
Advance Peace may also soon find its way to Sacramento. Boggan says Sacramento city officials have been “assertive” in their pursuit of the program.
The program is funded through combination of government money and private donation. A third of the program’s costs, which goes toward evaluations and training, comes from the government. The rest, including the stipends, comes from private donations.
Communities, Boggan argues, will not just save lives — they will also save money.
“In most jurisdictions, I think the baseline taxpayer contribution for every firearm related crime homicide or injury is nearly $400,000,” he said.
Boggan says the payment comes after a “fellow” shows a certain amount of progress after six months. He also insists the program is not a “get out of jail free card.