What 8 survivors of violent crime taught me about redemption

The idea of The Redemption Project is to create a space where the victim or victim or a crime can meet with and have a conversation with the perpetrator of that crime. To be specific, the episode I watched this evening, “My Mother’s Murder,” involved the daughter of a murdered woman meet with the murderer, at the daughter’s initiative.

There are many different impressions that flow from watching these emotionally powerful scenes. Van Jones created the series and provides an on-screen continuity and credibility by narrating to some extent, and meeting with the participants. But there are other people in the trenches who have worked to bring these moments about, and of course the victims and the perpetrators. I’ve never seen anything like it.

–submitted by Michael Kelly

May 9, 2019 (cnn.com)

Van Jones is the host of the “The Van Jones Show” and a CNN political commentator. He is the CEO of REFORM Alliance, an organization aiming to reduce the number of people serving unjust parole and probation sentences, and the co-founder of #cut50, a bipartisan criminal justice initiative of the Dream Corps. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.

(CNN)The twisted irony of violent crime is that the two people involved — those who commit the heinous act, and those who survive — are connected for the rest of their lives. From the moment of the incident on, their life stories must always include that other person.

But our current criminal justice system isn’t designed to acknowledge this reality. It serves to keep people on both sides of a crime completely separate as it weighs out the appropriate penalty. This system may deliver justice. What it might not do is heal.

To learn more about new approaches to justice inside and outside of our prison system, tune into the CNN Original Series “The Redemption Project with Van Jones,” Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

During the filming of my new CNN show, “The Redemption Project,” I witnessed a different response to violent crime — one that brings together survivors and those who committed a crime to seek accountability and answers they may not have gotten in the courtroom.

I saw survivors of violence and loss agree to meet face-to-face and talk with those who hurt them or their family members. Meanwhile, those who had made terrible decisions sat down to hear directly from those whose lives they had derailed or destroyed.

These carefully structured dialogues are a key part of the restorative justice process. Where our criminal justice system focuses on punishment of the individual responsible for the crime, restorative justice seeks to heal the whole community and all parties involved. (Note that some people find the term “victim” to be dehumanizing. But within the context of a restorative justice process, it is the most commonly used term, so I will use it here advisedly along with the term “survivor.”)

In the new CNN Original Series "The Redemption Project," Van Jones joins those impacted by crimes and those that committed them on their journey to meet face-to-face.

One thought on “What 8 survivors of violent crime taught me about redemption”

  1. After watching three episodes of The Redemption Project I continue to be impressed with the courage of people to reach out to each other in order to have more peace of mind about some event in which they were both entangled, typically, it seems, due to the web of dysfunction around drug addiction.

    There is so much more to say about the complicated human dramas presented on this show, especially in light of RHS, than I can write.

    Another dimension that becomes apparent while watching is that many people work to bring these moments about and that it takes a number of awakenings on both sides for the meetings filmed for the Redemption Project to take place.

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