The JUSTICE Project: Working with Families Impacted by the Criminal Justice System

This Alumni Lecture is presented by the Ackerman Alumni Association. Alumni Lectures are open to all mental health professionals. Alumni Association members with dues in good standing may attend free of charge. Admission includes a light dinner reception.


Every one of the 7 million U.S. citizens living under correctional control (incarceration, parole, probation) is known to someone as “family,” yet as a nation we insist on understanding them as only as individuals – “Criminals” with character defects and moral failings in need of reform or rehabilitation. Anchored in these understandings, we view their struggles with reentry as individual dilemmas, and pose solutions that ignore the critical role the support of kith and kin play in our efforts to build a life. The JUSTICE Project aims to provide therapeutic services that strengthen the relationships that offer this kind of support.

The JUSTICE Project has been seeing families impacted by the criminal justice system for three years. In this time we have been inspired to practice several “ways of being” with families that have known the experience of being surveilled and judged – Inviting them instead, to the experience of being witnessed and compassionately understood. Please join us for a conversation about some of these practices and the effects they have had on us and the families with whom we have been working.

This evening presentation will include discussion of our conceptual framework, participation in some of the collaborative practices we employ both as a team and in our work with families, and exploration of some ways of being, thinking, and doing we have engaged in hopes of nurturing relationships and subverting the influence of dehumanization.


Participants will be supported in:

  • Identifying some of the ways the context of reentry informs the experience of relationship following incarceration
  • Exploring ways of utilizing therapeutic dialogue to explicitly acknowledge and attend to the impact(s) of systems of oppression on our relationships to ourselves and one another
  • Identifying practices, including Location of Self, that honor complexity and promote accountability in order to increase possibilities for connection and repair


Sarah Berland, LCSW; Courtney Zazzali, LCSW; and Marissa Moore, LMHC, are members of the Ackerman Institute Faculty and maintain private practices in New York City. Additionally, Sarah co-facilitates the Ackerman Coalition of White Identified Trainees and serves as the Chair of the Family Policy and Human Rights Committee of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA). Courtney has provided workshops and community trainings with Ackerman’s Adolescent Project and co-facilitates the Ackerman Coalition of White Identified Trainees. Marissa is a member of Ackerman’s Therapists of Color Consultation Project, providing workshops for therapists of color.

Date / Time:

Friday, May 17, 2019
6:00–6:30 pm | Dinner Reception
6:30–8:30 pm | Lecture

Continuing Education:

2 CE Contact Hours

Register Online:

Alumni must have dues in good standing to attend.

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