Press Release

September 5, 2023
Maryland Delegation Announces $400,000 for Anne Arundel County Youth Fresh START Diversion Program

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer and John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) today announced $400,000 in congressionally directed funding that they fought to secure for Anne Arundel County’s Fresh Safe, Trauma-Informed, Accountable, Restorative, Transparent (START) Program.

This funding, which comes through the United States Department of Justice’s Byrne Discretionary Grants Program, will be used to bolster Anne Arundel Police Department’s Fresh START Program, a diversion program that seeks to hold youth accused of low-level offenses accountable while preventing juvenile arrests and 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.

“Diversion and prevention programs like Fresh START save money for taxpayers, but more importantly, they spare families and young people from the heartbreak often caused by routine offending,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “This federal funding will help provide a second chance for juveniles who need support and structure without turning them over to the legal system so early in their lives. By intervening at the first sign of trouble, we are interrupting a potential escalation to more serious, violent crimes.”

“Fresh START has a strong record of putting young people who committed minor offenses back on the right track, while providing effective accountability measures. These federal funds will help ensure we’re providing our at-risk youth with the opportunity of a second chance by connecting them with mentors and providing the counseling services they need to stay on the right track and reach their potential,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Upholding accountability, reducing ethnic and racial disparities in the justice system, and promoting better outcomes for at-risk youth, the Fresh START program is crucial to the safety and prosperity of our community,” said Congressman Hoyer. “I was proud to help secure this community project funding for Anne Arundel County’s Fresh START program in the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bill. We have a duty to keep young Marylanders on a path toward success. These diversion programs help break the cycle of recidivism by providing vulnerable youths with the vital support services and stability they need to better themselves. With this funding, we’re investing in a better future for these kids and for our community.”

“Creating safer, healthier communities for all requires addressing the underlying factors that result in individuals interacting with the justice system,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to secure this funding to help the Fresh START Program expand and continue its efforts to improve outcomes for at-risk youth in Anne Arundel County by delivering much needed early intervention and services – including mental and behavioral health care services – that aim to holistically address their needs and set them on a path to reaching their full potential.”

Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny Hoyer and John Sarbanes helped secure the program’s funding by submitting the request as fiscal year 2023 community project funding. The Justice Byrne Discretionary Grant Program awards community project requests to agencies that improve the functioning of the criminal justice system, prevent or combat juvenile delinquency and assist crime victims.