U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Common Justice

2012 Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards

Common Justice | Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services
Brooklyn, New York

Common Justice, a demonstration project of the Vera Institute of Justice, employs an innovative approach to dealing with violent crime, an approach that strives to foster healing in communities and promote equity in the delivery of services to victims. The traditional court process relies heavily on incarceration, is costly, may perpetuate a cycle of violence and re-offending, and fails to meet the needs of those harmed by criminal acts. 

Common Justice offers an alternative to the traditional court process for youth charged with felonies such as assault, robbery, and burglary, giving those affected by a crime the opportunity to acknowledge the harm done, address their needs, and agree on sanctions other than incarceration to hold the offender accountable. 

Through this innovative practice of encouraging victims’ participation in the justice process, Common Justice aims to address the underlying causes of violence and begin a long-term process of transformation for individuals and communities. In the process, the project reaches the population that is statistically at greatest risk of being harmed by violent crime, young men of color. Common Justice works closely with this population, which is unlikely to receive needed assistance, offering a new model for responding to harm that is equitable and addresses the need for healing in the aftermath of violence.