On April 20, Vera’s demonstration project Common Justice was recognized by Attorney General Eric Holder on the eve of the nation's observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 22-28, 2012. One of only twelve recipients honored by the Department of Justice at its 2012 annual victims' service awards ceremony in Washington, DC, Common Justice received the prestigious Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services, which recognizes a program, organization, or individual that has helped to expand the reach of victims' rights and services.
Common Justice offers an alternative to the traditional court process for youth charged with felonies such as assault, robbery, and burglary. Project staff bring together people immediately affected by a crime--victims and perpetrators-- to acknowledge the harm done, address the needs of the harmed party, and agree on sanctions other than incarceration to hold the responsible party 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.