Breakthrough local solutions
In Brooklyn and the Bronx, Common Justice operates an alternative-to-incarceration and victim-service program. It is a rigorous, cutting-edge response to serious and violent felonies, including assault and robbery, based in restorative justice principles. If—and only if—the survivors of those crimes consent, Common Justice diverts the cases into a process designed to recognize the harm done, honor the needs and interests of those harmed, and develop appropriate responses to hold the responsible party accountable.
Supporting those harmed
Common Justice offers survivors the opportunity to have their needs validated and addressed, to participate in shaping the consequences for the harm they survived, to co-create and carry out a wraparound service plan, and to develop strategies to cope with and come through the trauma they experienced.
Restorative justice circles
After extensive preparation, responsible parties sit with those they have harmed (or surrogates who take their place), people who support both parties, and a trained facilitator in a restorative justice “circle.” This circle provides those most affected by a crime with the power and opportunity to address questions, impacts, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and foster accountability. Together the circle participants reach agreements about what the responsible party can do to make things as right as possible.
Accountability without incarceration
Program staff monitor responsible parties’ adherence to the circle agreements—which may include restitution, extensive community service, and commitments to attend school and work—while supervising their completion of the 12- to 15-month intensive violence intervention program. Responsible parties who successfully complete both their commitments to those they harmed and the violence intervention program do not serve the jail or prison sentences they would otherwise have faced.
In cases in which incarceration does not serve the public interest, Common Justice provides a safe, effective option that seeks to repair rather than sever communal ties in the aftermath of serious crime. Common Justice knows that accountability and healing are not mutually exclusive—they are in fact interconnected. Just as we hold people accountable for the violence they commit, so too must we take collective accountability for the conditions that give rise to violence in the first place. The program therefore aims to address the underlying causes of violence and help foster a long-term process of transformation for individuals and communities.