tonight, a special edition of "nightline." "pay for peace." in a dangerous california city -- >> don't move! >> where the streets are hunting grounds. those desperate for calm have turned to a controversial solution. paying potentially violent young men not rewarding good behavior with monthly checks. even cross-country trips. >> they go from i don't give a -- to a place where, maybe i do. >> we're on the streets with the violence interrupters, bringing would-be rivals face-to-face. >> y'all making it seem like you tripping and y'all [ bleep ] tripping -- >> in a nation plagued by gun crime, could showing young men a new world view put an end to the cycle of bloodshed? this special edition of
this is a special edition of "nightline." "pay for peace." >> good evening and thanks for joining us. this has been a violent sumner america. august was the deadliest month in chicago in 20 years. and washington, d.c. and milwaukee saw their biggest homicide spikes in two decades. so tonight we're going to take
controversial approach. a program that pays young men not to shoot. here's my "nightline" coanchor byron pitts. >> reporter: duwan rice is just 19 years old but he's already had to say good-bye to seven friends, each one murdered. and he's fed up. >> that's cold, bruh. >> reporter: paying respects to two brothers buried in one plot, shot to death on the same day. he tells us he didn't cry when they died. but the tears coming and something else. anger. >> what are you thinking? what are you feeling? >> pain, man. like real pain, bruh. >> reporter: grappling with an urge to avenge his friends' violent murders duwan pulls out his phone. he's about to make a life or death decision -- whether to call his boys and retaliate. >> have to sit back. i got to think. whether to go left, whether to go right.
white mazda -- >> a brother and sister shot to death in richmond last night -- >> reporter: this potent mix of pain, anger, and teenagers with guns make his hometown of richmond at one point one of the deadliest cities in america. the streets are hunting grounds. corner after corner, young men running for their lives. the puffs of smoke, bullets. chased by an armed rival. here a calculated hit is under way. two men calmly walking before they open fire, lighting up the night. >> every night on the news, you'd think this was beirut. you'd be afraid to come to this city. >> reporter: in 2007, the city brought in devone bogan who came up with a controversial solution -- pay young men like duwan not to pull the trigger. that's right. the better the behavior, the better the paycheck. this month, duwan got the maximum, $1,300. >> congratulations. >> thank you, thank you.
cemetery, he chose not to avenge his friends' murder. >> everything you do is going to have a reaction. know what i mean? and a consequence. >> reporter: duwan is one of two dozen men in the 18-month-long friendship. the office of neighborhood safety, ons, mostly funded by taxpayers. >> that's our rent, boom. >> people we've spoken to who believe it is wrong to pay a kid not to kill somebody. >> that's not what we in fact, i 97 tell a young man to put his gun down. >> what are you paying him for? >> their job is to get their lives together. >> reporter: devone says incentivizing these young men to change is ultimately more cost effective for everyone. one murder costs nearly $500,000 on average. almost all of it paid by taxpayers. >> i painted all those cabinets -- >> reporter: so far the investment in duwan is paying off. he just got his first on the books paying job.
and move into their house, they would never know that little black kid from richmond do it, know what i mean? they'd never know. >> reporter: progress for a young man who was first arrested at age 12 for armed robbery. he says he was homeless, stole an iphone to help his single mom pay her bills. he was well known on the streets. >> serial shooter. that's what they would say. i call him a leader, a hunter. that's what they would call him. i called him brilliant. working to survive. >> so the arrest date conviction date. we're not appealing their decision. we're applying for a waiver. >> reporter: to help the fell fellofellows navigate life or death joyces devone enlisted men like james houston and sam devean who themselves have rap sheets for violent crimes. >> what's the resume look like? graduate school? social work? >> most of our guys have come out of either state or federal
let me tell you, city hall was like, what? we're going to be looking to hire men and women who may have murder in their background? >> reporter: it's their backgrounds that in part make them particularly suited to the most crucial part of their job, interrupting violence. the fellow calling tells james he thinks he's being hunted. >> what kind of car? >> reporter: a car fills with suspected rivals parked in front of his house. unarmed, sam and james put their lives on the line to stop a potential shooting. >> i want to protect myself and you're screaming for help on the ground -- >> reporter: we're told to keep our cameras down because the young man asked us not to show his face, house, nor use his name. >> [ bleep ] going to take my word -- >> i'm telling you -- >> whatever it is right now that's just a dead man walking. >> let us try to deal with this. >> reporter: sam and james stay with him until he calms down.
choice. but then again, i had to really think about it. >> it is a cry for help. it just isn't a typical one. because they don't want to do something but they feel like they have to. >> reporter: in a five-year period, the number of homicides dropped 76% across richmond. a number that can't be attributed to ons alone. but ons says proof their approach is working. the vast majority are still alive. of the fellows in their program still carry guns for protection. >> how do you square that, trying to teach them how to function in society, yet they're still trapped? >> right now we're trying to teach them not to deal with their conflict with violence. i'm not saying it's okay, i'm saying i understand your reality. >> reporter: having so many armed men on these streets is not a reality police here are comfortable with. >> a lot of people carry around more firepower than police do.
when a routine traffic stop turns into an armed standoff -- >> put your hands up! >> firearm! >>. >> reporter: the driver has a gun out in plain view. >> hands up! >> reporter: not uncommon in richmond where protection from being hunted can be more important than hiding the weapon from police. >> don't move. >> firearm. >> if you move you're going to get shot, you understand? keep your hand right there. >> reporter: the two cops are outnumbered by the four men in the car and no telling if the passengers are armed. in a fatal turn. >> keep your hands on the hand rest. hands on the hand rests. >> reporter: waiting on backup to arrive, officer ben terio makes a move. >> put a we'd on him. >> reporter: holstering his gun so he can disarm the driver. >> i'm not doing anything. >> step out. put your hands behind your back. other hand behind your back. >> reporter: turns out there was a second gun in the back seat. >> revolver. >> reporter: thankfully, no
this time. >> he may bail out before i even get off work, you know? and there's two firearms recovered in the vehicle. >> old school usi. pump action shotgun. >> reporter: the guns laid out on this table at police headquarters were confiscated in just three weeks. >> this is an ak-47 type rifle. >> reporter: a staggering amount in a city of only 100,000 people. >> sawed-off double barrel. >> when you talk about serial shooters in richmond, this is their potential arsenal? >> any one of these guns or something similar we could retrieve off the streets any day of the week. >> reporter: no matter how many illegal guns are pulled off the streets, nationally about half the people charged with firearm offenses get their cases dropped. and go right back to the street. >> you all right? >> reporter: which is why devone and his team think their approach, working with instead of against young men like duwan, has to be part of the equation.
sometimes -- >> they get to make the decisions about how peaceful and safe this city and is they're making those decisions every day. we want to expose them to a world where they go from, i don't give a -- to a place where, maybe i do. >> reporter: duwan's good behavior earns him the next huge reward in the program. an all-expenses paid trip out east to washington, d.c. and new york city. there's a catch. >> you have to be willing to travel with someone that's trying to kill you, or that kill. >> reporter: being made to face their perceived enemy is perhaps the biggest hallmark of the program. when we come back, watch what happens when duwan comes face to face with his supposed rival. >> y'all making it seem like we tripping and [ bleep ] tripping and we're making y'all trip -- your actions, your money. it had me. it had me. i would not be a non-smoker today if it wasn't for chantix.
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here in richmond, california, bullets fly and blood is shed because of long-simmering neighborhood rivalries. >> i wouldn't have a problem like everybody stays in their own lane. >> reporter: 19-year-ol rice is about to come face to face with rico williams who will be his travel partner for the upcoming trip. rico is one of the guys from the other side of town. >> they grow up enemies. but they don't know, man, we're the same dude. >> bullets is just flying everywhere. you had to really, really be on guard, keep your eyes open at all times. >> reporter: so far, 18-year-old marrico has not been shot. but his mother fears it could be a matter of time. >> i worry a lot every night,
i pray. >> what's your biggest fear? >> that i have to bury him. >> reporter: they're about to meet for the first time. each is joined by another fellow in the program from their own neighborhood. >> duwan and marrico. what was the dynam nick. >> antagonism. >> rivals? >> they're rivals. >> violent? willing to hurt each other? >> oh, no question about that. believe in. >> reporter: the change acts stay close by because confrontations like this can turn deadly in an instant. >> let it be known that [ bleep ] -- now y'all making it seem like we tripping and y'all [ bleep ] tripping and we making y'all trip -- >> reporter: duwan says marrico's crew disrespected one of his murdered friends on facebook. social media posts have been a flashpoint for violence in this community before.
>> reporter: finally marrico and his friend agree, the post should be deleted. >> we set? >> yep. >> reporter: navigating this conflict with words, not violence, is a major step for these young men. >> without this program, we'd have never met. we'd have never had an encounter like that. it would have been negativity. >> how is it you guys get along now, you and the guys in the program? >> we have a conversation. >> so you can settle differences that maybe in the past might have been settled with guns? >> talking. whoop de whoop dewop, there you go, okay? oh, okay, gotcha, bro. >> reporter: even though this encounter was positive they know it doesn't ensure a safe tomorrow. >> it feels like you've got a thousand balls going in the air and one could fall at any time. >> yep. >> a kid could be hurt, a kid could bring something into your space. you could be hurt. >> yep.
balls you're trying to juggle? >> delicately. it's different for each. it's different. that's the challenging part. >> reporter: which is why cultivating relationships with the fellows is perhaps the most important part of sam's job. sam is on his way to see marrico, who has been having trouble in the program. >> what's up? >> now you would have got a little more -- >> reporter: so this month his paycheck for the neighborhood change agents was only $500. >> all we got to do is stay focused. >> reporter: a far cry from the $1,300 he could have earned. he'd lied about going to community college. >> if you ain't -- if you don't understand nothing but this, you ain't never got to lie to me, bro. not never. >> reporter: for sam, working through moments like this is what the program is all about. >> we try to get them to be responsible and accountable. we let them know that we love you, but this is up acceptable. and we help them realize it's unacceptable through love.
picture and we thinking it's all roses, bro, we just follow in suit. but you, [ bleep ], you all messed up and you don't let nobody know. that's an issue, man. so let's get through that. >> is there any sense that maybe you're coddling these kids who need a firm hand, who need discipline, who need to be straightened out, who in some instances perhaps need to be incarcerated? >> absolutely. the growth and development requires a little coddling. coaching. discipline. that's what they get here. my late mama would call all that loving on these boys like parents. >> brother, byron, that's exactly -- it's not that hard. these young men shoot because when they shoot, they matter. it's when we pay attention to them.
advance peace, the richard fellowship model, is resonating around the country. cities like chicago, baltimore, d.c., oakland, struggling to stop the surging violence on their streets, have called on davone for help. the reward trip to new york and d.c. is a week away. davone and the change agents are taking the young men suit shopping. this is the first time duw after the n has ever worn a suit. >> i think it's smooth, know what i mean? >> reporter: something he says he didn't he was in a coffin. in fact, he never thought he'd live to see this year. >> next year, i'm going to be dead. >> you thought that? and now? >> i mean -- anything could happen. in seconds. in the next 30 seconds i could get killed or something. but now -- i'm not turning back. know what i mean? nobody, no man, no woman, could slow me down. >> reporter: finally, it's time to fly.
it's only their third time meeting. now they'll be doing everything together for eight long days. >> feel like a million dollars. >> reporter: so many firsts. far away from the streets of richmond. the rivalries and reality of living there seem to dissipate. >> people say, what's your theory of change? blow these young men's minds on life. >> show them what's possible? >> show them what's possible and show them what's possible in the context of being with their >> reporter: from the corridors of power -- >> this is raw right here. >> reporter: to the skyline of new york city. >> i call it the top of the world. know what i mean? i've never seen nothing like this before. >> reporter: perhaps some new perspective on the world and each other and what's possible for a life well lived without rivals. >> they don't come back kumbaya. but they come back and it's
>> not that sucker from across town? >> not "sucker." >> reporter: it's a lot harder to shoot someone you know, respect, maybe even like. >> we got to know each other. >> can you maintain that? >> it's a revolution, know what i mean? a new era. >> reporter: six months after the trip, duwan has stayed out of trouble with the law but he's under some new stress. he's expecting his first child, a son. a cycle of its own. but neither duwan nor marrico has had any new gun charges. for them that's a major victory. >> the process itself brings these young men to a place where they go, i'm not going to put myself in a position where i feel like i have to have a gun. >> our thanks to byron for that extraordinary report. and we'll be right back. >> this special edition of
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