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Westchester Diversion Program ‘Fresh Start’ Celebrates Milestone Participation Rate In First Year
Nearly 200 participants have completed the second-chance program intended to address root causes of crime, improve public safety

Nov. 22, 2022 – One year after launching the pre-arraignment diversion program “Fresh Start,” Westchester County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah and Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced that 192 participants have completed the program, following its countywide expansion, contributing to safer outcomes for Westchester communities.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the first year of Fresh Start, a forward-thinking program that helps foster our goals for sustainable, safe communities,” DA Rocah said. “Through our successful partnership with county government and law enforcement, this program allows non-violent individuals facing low-level charges an opportunity to reset their course before becoming embedded in the cycle of recidivism.”

“In its first year, Fresh Start has shown that good government and justice can go hand-in-hand,” Westchester County Executive Latimer said. “We are reaching people at the earliest point in the criminal justice system – giving them an opportunity to do better, and potentially saving substantial tax dollars by reducing the number of people who will, more deeply and often repeatedly, wind up on the wrong side of the law.”

Intended to address the root causes of crime and to improve public safety, Fresh Start, launched in Oct. 2021, offers social services, counseling, and rehabilitation as an alternative to fines, conviction, and incarceration for certain non-violent, first-time, low-level offenders in Westchester County. A partnership between the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and the Westchester County Executive’s Office, in collaboration with Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) and the Legal Aid Society of Westchester, Fresh Start began as a pilot program with cases originating in the Greenburgh Police Department and the White Plains Police Department before expanding to all 42 police departments in the county.

“Under the leadership of Westchester County Executive Latimer, Westchester continues to build programs and opportunities for people to get the assistance they need. We’re proud of the participants who successfully completed this program and earned their right to remove any negative impact of prosecution, conviction or incarceration on their employment, future, and quality of life,” said Michael Orth, Commissioner of the Department of Community Mental Health, which co-facilitates the one-time, three-hour program with trained mental health peers with lived incarceration experience from the Mental Health Empowerment Project.

With Fresh Start, the District Attorney’s Office refers to the Department of Community Mental Health eligible first-time defendants charged with non-violent, low-level offenses, such as Petit Larceny, Disorderly Conduct, and Trespassing, among others. Upon completion of the program, the DA’s Office declines to prosecute the participants’ charges. Offenders who do not participate, or fail to complete the program, are required to appear in court as originally scheduled and face criminal prosecution by the DA’s Office.

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Anna Young, Public Information Officer
(914) 995-6551
ayoung@westchesterda.net

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