Program started in 2021 served more than double the expected number of young people in it’s first year and successfully diverted over 90 percent of participants.
Last month a Maryland delegation consisting of Senators Van Hollen and Cardin as well as Congressmen Hoyer and Sarbanes announced $400,000 in additional funding to expand a first-of-it’s-kind juvenile diversion program that began in 2021 with the Anne Arundel County Police Department. This program seeks to hold youth accused of low-level offenses accountable while preventing juvenile arrests. Additional aimes include addressing racial and ethnic disparities in charging by connecting eligible individuals with the resources to identify and address core issues like trauma, mental health and substance use and support to help them stay out of the justice system.
This news comes as lawmakers, agencies, and stakeholders debate strategies to combat juvenile crime across the state. One major concern that has been discussed by lawmakers is whether there are enough services like these in place at the state and local level to move the needle. In Anne Arundel at least, the program showed such tremendous results in the first year, that new funding has been allocated to expand the reach of the current program. With a more than 90 percent success rate, the additional funding will increase case manager staffing for the purposes of serving more youth and increasing services provided to program participants, hiring youth mentors, and program administration costs. This additional $400,000 will come through the United States Department of Justice’s Byrne Discretionary Grants Program. The most recent application for the funding explicitly stated the goal of reducing reliance on the criminal justice system.
From Representative Sarbanes:
Creating safer, healthier communities requires addressing the underlying factors that contribute to justice system interactions. I’m proud to have secured funding for the Fresh START Program to expand & continue its efforts to improve outcomes for at-risk youth in AACO.
— Rep. John Sarbanes (@RepSarbanes) September 9, 2023
Another shout out for the Anne Arundel program from Representative Hoyer:
I was proud to help secure $400k for Anne Arundel County’s Fresh START program in the FY’23 appropriations bill.
I look forward to seeing how these funds help promote better outcomes for at-risk MD youth and reduce racial disparities in our justice system.https://t.co/3IxLBWBSzH
— Steny Hoyer (@RepStenyHoyer) September 5, 2023