SAN FRANCISCO, California — A new San Francisco initiative will be paying $300 per month to ex-criminals to become "public safety ambassadors" in hopes to decrease gun violence and crime in the city.
It's called the "Dream Keeper Fellowship" where participants of the program will have to first pass an interview, then will be provided with life coaches from the city's Street Violence Intervention Program.
The San Francisco Police Department reported a rise in burglary, theft and assault due to the pandemic, with over a combined 29,889 reported crimes being reported since the beginning of the year alone.
Sheryl Davis, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commision, talked to San Francisco's KGO-TV about the new initiative. She believes the program will impact communities for the better.
"As a part of their participation, they are expected to do some conversations around public safety, to do some goal setting for themselves, to also think about how they can influence and impact their communities to be better," Davis said.
Even with the hope of a positive outcome, the initiative doesn't come without its own controversy.
In a 2016 interview about a similar, yet former program in California called "The Office of Neighborhood Safety," Yolanda Ficklin-Prontho -- who lost her son to gun violence -- told the news outlet that these programs give "them (ex-criminals) money to buy more guns."
"There's definitely something that we want to learn from that program that we want to benefit from and there are things that we don't want to repeat," Davis said.
The program will be funded by the use of private donations, taxpayer dollars and a potential federal grant.