The Practitioners Lab


The mission of Common Justice is to advance solutions to violence that transform the lives of those harmed and foster racial equity without relying on incarceration. Anchored in this mission, the Common Justice Practitioners Lab is a 12-month cohort-based training and practice lab available to practitioners who are working to divert cases of serious violence in the adult courts away from prison sentences and toward strategies that hold people accountable for harm, break cycles of violence, and secure safety, healing, and justice for survivors. It is designed for those who want to be in community as they build and implement impactful diversion programs for serious violence.

The Lab is designed to be collaborative and interactive, seeking to draw from the experiences of the Common Justice team and Lab participants as we grapple with shared challenges and co-create the practices and conditions necessary to divert violence well.

Who This Is For

We are inviting dynamic teams of two from jurisdictions nationwide to bring your unique perspectives and experiences to form this diverse community of practitioners united by a common goal: addressing serious violence such as attempted murders, robberies, and serious assaults (our focus is not intimate partner or sexual violence) through restorative justice as a viable alternative to incarceration.

Our primary focus is on empowering practitioners deeply embedded in their communities, those dedicated to supporting the diversion of adults from the criminal legal system, and those actively involved in developing and implementing restorative and transformative interventions.

Ideal candidates for The Lab include the following:

  • Community Organizers: Individuals rooted in community, igniting change at the grassroots level and mobilizing resources and people towards systemic change.
  • Violence Interrupters: Individuals whose courage and commitment have you standing on the frontlines, actively mediating and transforming violence into opportunities for healing.
  • Restorative Justice Practitioners: Skilled professionals eager to enhance your expertise, particularly in addressing serious violence, grounded in principles of empathy, accountability, and rigorous standards of practice.
  • Organizational Leaders: Visionaries at the helm of institutions, seeking to integrate effective, proven strategies to address serious violence.
  • Healers: Individuals employing spiritual, emotional, or physical healing modalities as you support people in navigating trauma, establishing self-care practices, and cultivating resilience.
  • Directly Impacted Community Members: Individuals whose lived experiences enrich collective efforts, bringing depth and urgency to the work.
  • Survivors of Violence: Those who have experienced violence firsthand and whose voices and insights are essential in crafting real, impactful, and durable solutions.

In this convergence of skills, experiences, and passions, we anticipate the emergence and deepening of innovative, principled, and effective strategies to address serious violence that are transformative, equitable, and humane.

Core Objectives

  1. Capacity and Relationship Building: You will develop the capacity to effectively lead diversion programs for serious violence, bolstered by a network of peers and mentors. Our training emphasizes the importance of collaboration and mutual understanding, equipping you with the skills to enhance your community initiatives while respecting ongoing efforts toward alternatives to incarceration.
  2. Survivor Centered Solutions: This objective focuses on supporting you to center the needs and voices of survivors in your work. You will develop and deepen practices related to engaging survivors, supporting marginalized survivors of violence towards healing, navigating survivors’ material and emotional needs, and accompanying survivors through restorative justice processes.
  3. Positioning Interventions for Success: We prepare you to apply violence intervention principles that meet high standards of care and effectiveness. You will gain insights into the core elements of Common Justice’s model and acquire practical strategies to enhance community safety, ensuring your interventions in serious violence are both impactful and sustainable.
  4. Strategic Legal and Political System Navigation: Enhance your ability to navigate and influence legal and political systems in support of restorative justice. Our focus is on enabling you to drive systemic change, fostering environments where restorative justice is not just an option, but a preferred and effective approach to addressing serious violence.
  5. Building Survivor Centered Narratives: Learn to craft compelling narratives that resonate with and center those most affected by violence. These collaborative lab sessions will guide you in creating and sharing stories that underscore the principles of survivor-centeredness, accountability, safety, and racial equity, enhancing your impact as a practitioner in the field. 

Program Dates

May 22-24: Session 1 (In Person)

June 13: Session 2 (Online)  

July-August: Small Group Sessions (Online)

September 26: Session 3 (Online)

October 16: Session 4 (Online)  

November 6-8: Session 5 (In Person)

December 12: Session 6 (Online)

January 23: Session 7 (Online)

February 26-28: Session 8 (Optional Site Visit)

March 27: Session 9 (Online)

April 23-25: Session 10 (In Person)

How To Apply

The Common Justice Lab is a 12-month journey that commences with an in-person session in Brooklyn, New York from May 22 to 24. While participants are responsible for covering their own travel and hotel expenses, there is no cost to participate in the Lab. We are committed to ensuring accessibility for all, so limited travel fund scholarships are available to support those facing financial barriers or challenges raising funds within their local community. Simply indicate you would like to be considered for such support and we will follow up with you.

To apply for the Lab, teams of two from a jurisdiction are invited to collaborate on a single application. Please click below, where you will find a set of application questions that your team must complete together by February 16, 2024. This unified approach ensures that we understand the collective strengths and perspectives your team brings. While our preferred method for application answers is written responses, we are also open to providing alternative means of applying for teams who may encounter accessibility issues or find it challenging to convey the scope or spirit of your joint work in writing. A decision on acceptance into the Lab, based on these team applications, will be made on March 15, 2024.

If you have any questions or require assistance with the lab application, please feel free to reach out to RJ Maccani, the Director of Training, at [email protected], and copy Stephan Thomas, the Director of Partnerships and Replication, at [email protected].

Please note the importance of full participation in both in-person and online sessions for the success of the program. Ensure your availability by referring to the Lab application for all session dates. Your commitment to active engagement is essential in this collaborative journey.

The Common Justice Practitioners Lab is a collaborative space for teams to enhance your restorative justice efforts. We welcome those dedicated to making a meaningful difference in addressing serious violence through this initiative.

Apply Today!