Mississippi mayor offers $10,000 for criminals to leave city

A Mississippi mayor announced on Monday that he's ready to spend thousands of dollars of his own money to get rid of criminals in his city, according to Newsweek

Clarksdale mayor Chuck Espy said at a press conference that he is willing to relocate those who commit crimes with an initial offer of $10,000. The purpose, he said, is to encourage lawbreakers to start a new life elsewhere.

"They may be in the wrong environment," Espy said. "So, what I'm saying as the mayor today, I will put money on the line to assist those type of people to move out of the city." 

The mayor said he is specifically targeting three groups of people, including "drug dealers, gang members and any wannabe criminals in the city of Clarksdale." The hope is that they can find better opportunities in other places. 

Espy's moving assistance fund is part of a "five-point plan" that also consists of a no tolerance policy, preservation of lives, rehabilitation programs and intervention. The initiative builds on a corrective action plan that the city formulated last year to limit criminal activity. 

"Now it is time to double-down and implement a systemic approach and use proven models that address crime directly," Espy explained in a press release.

Prior to becoming mayor, Espy served as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1999 to 2016. During his time, he co-authored a bill that granted health care coverage to thousands of children in his home state. He also created a foundation that provides economic aid to families in crisis. In addition to his current political role, Espy also owns Century Funeral Home and Burial Association, a family business. 

Since introducing his moving assistance plan, Espy has asked local businesses and philanthropists to contribute to the fund. 

Reverend John Givins, who is collaborating with Espy and the city's law enforcement to reduce crime, said the Clarksdale community will provide additional services to previous offenders who want to stay, provided that they make an effort to become contributing members of society. 

"We will ... be putting an etiquette class in place for these people," he explained to Fox 13. "And we have skill sets to prepare them for jobs coming to the city of Clarksdale." 

Clarksdale is a small town with nearly 18,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2018, the city reported 12 homicides. This year, just one murder has been recorded, police chief Sandra Williams told Fox 13. 

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