The Outstater

September 29, 2023

Obviously . . .

AS C.K. CHESTERTON famously said, every high civilization decays by forgetting obvious things. This is an apology to our members for continuing — perhaps monotonously — to remind them of those obvious things. But somebody has to do it.

A week ago we highlighted an economist’s courageous study showing that, yes, two-parent families have an advantage in raising children. Earlier this week we reminded ourselves that private property matters, critiquing the business plan of a government grocery store in Fort Wayne. Today, we address public safety, particularly an Indianapolis organization paid to stop violence by . . . well, by talking about it.

While inclined to acknowledge the sincerity of the effort, we pause to consider the method. As best can be understood from fawning newspaper articles and television interviews, unarmed “life coaches”  of the Indy Peace Fellowship answer 911 violence calls with a pat on the back and an encouraging word.

Maybe we oversimplify. Here is 44-year-old Daniel Mallory, one of the fellowship’s life coaches, explaining the technique to the Indianapolis Star: “We attach ourselves to these (potentially violent) individuals, Their mind starts changing, like, ‘I don’t want to do nothing that’s going to lead me back to prison.’”

Again, we do not deny the nobleness of the effort. Nor do we underestimate the political utility of a mayor being able to claim to be addressing crime with a program that avoids actually arresting anyone, especially anyone driven by unknown but mitigating root causes.

However, we are taken aback by the cost. Here is the Star’s glowing summary of Indy Peace funding:

“After starting as a small pilot program funded by Central Indiana Community Foundation in 2021, the fellowship expanded to its current form through $30 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act money granted by Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration later that year to be spent over three years. The program is slated to receive an additional $4.5 million in the proposed 2024 budget with the goal of making it a permanent part of the city’s budget.”

How can that much money be spent on an operation conducted mainly on the street telling people one-on-one the obvious, specifically that hurting other people is against the law?

Hard to say. The Indy Peace Fellowship says it has 65 employees managing 92 “fellows.” The group says it offers certain services to those participating in up to 18 months of life-coaching. These include support with “resume-building, housing, food resources and cognitive behavioral therapy.”

Now we’re beginning to understand. You could run up a sizable bill over a year and a half providing food, housing and counseling for 92 troubled young men. Still, there must be more to it.

A throwaway line on the web site might explain the entire $4.5-million budget: “. . . with stipends distributed once certain goals are achieved to further incentivize participation in the program.” If by stipend they mean a fixed regular sum paid as a salary or allowance, you realize that big money is being distributed in cities throughout the nation to pay people to merely not be their felonious selves for a while.

For, interestingly, the Indianapolis peace-keepers and the Fort Wayne government grocery store share a funding source. It is the Biden administration’s $2 trillion American Rescue Plan, a program to relieve the economic pain of COVID but also, apparently, to keep people out of jail long enough to reelect their benefactors. — tcl


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