For Immediate Release 6/12/2018
Baltimore — A cohort of more than a half dozen men and women became the first individuals to graduate from State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s Aim to B’more (AIM) program Tuesday afternoon.
AIM is an innovative diversionary program that provides first-time, non-violent, felony drug offenders an alternative to incarceration. Participants serve a 3-year probation before judgment to include community service, job readiness classes, continuing education assistance, workforce development, apprenticeship and internship opportunities, mentors, life skills, and full time employment assistance.
“AIM helped me change my lifestyle. And it helped keep positive people in my life,” Program Graduate Shyhiem Holly said at the ceremony.
AIM participants remain under the supervision of a Probation Agent, Community Service Coordinator, and Program Coordinator for three years. Probation becomes unsupervised after the participant completes all conditions of their probation and maintains steady employment for a full year. After three years, the SAO will work with participants to expunge his or her record. Successful participants graduate with career opportunities and without a criminal record.
Currently there are 51 active participants in the program. Combined they have contributed more than 5,000 hours of community service and spent another 5,000 hours on self improvement.
“I’ve watched the participants grow, stretch, and develop as individuals,” said AIM Coordinator Dorian Walker. “It is incredible to see people completely turn their lives around by overcoming adversity and following through with our program.”
State’s Attorney Mosby said this program could not be possible without the two dozen community partnerships the SAO established to help the participants through each phase of the probationary period.
“The program model is based is dependant on leveraging public private partnerships to provide employment, life skills, and job readiness resources for our participants,” State’s Attorney Mosby said. “We know that a felony conviction can be a devastating hurdle to an individual’s future employment prospects—so transitioning someone from potential felon to gainfully employed with life and job skills training is a 180 degree turnaround.”
Judge Stephen Sfekas’ courtroom was full of people who came to support the graduates (Judge Sfekas has managed the AIM docket since the program’s inception). The crowd was a mix of family, service providers, SAO staff, community leaders and other AIM participants. Mosby says the graduations serve as an important acknowledgement of what can be accomplished by people committed to change.
“Everybody makes mistakes in their lifetime. But the real test of adulthood—is what you do with the mistakes that you’ve made,” Judge Sfekas said. “The [graduates] who are before us today made a mistake—but they’ve made amends. They’ve taken responsibility for their acts, they’ve worked hard, and they have committed themselves to a different way of life. And what we see today is a new start to a new life—and I’m very very proud of them.”
Another eight participants are expected to complete the program and earn an expungement this year—rounding out the 2018 class.
“There are thousands of people that share your story—our story—that won’t get the same opportunity you have. Each one of you deserved to be recognized for what is already a story of triumph.” State’s Attorney Mosby said.
Under the Mosby Administration, the SAO has made youth programming a priority through the Crime Control and Prevention (CCP) Unit by developing programs that introduce the city’s youth to the criminal justice system in hopes that they will not enter the system as a defendant. These efforts include the “Junior State’s Attorney” program, which employs 55 current and rising Baltimore City ninth graders for the summer, exposing them to the different components of the local criminal justice system; as well as, the “Great Expectations” program which is a ten-month program that introduces fourth grade Baltimore City Public School children to professions within the criminal justice system. This year, CCP launched Project 17, an employment and mentorship program aimed at chronically truant high school students. AIM to B’More primarily services Baltimore’s young adult population. As of 2018, approximately 60% of its participants are under the age of 24.