‘The Redemption Project’: Convicts, Victims, Confrontation and Forgiveness

CNN contributor Van Jones hosts a powerful new series about restorative justice, which brings together offenders and the people whose lives they shattered.

SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

The prison setting and the word “redemption” in the Ludlumesque title are vaguely evocative of the most popular prison movie of all time, The Shawshank Redemption.

A prison sentence, though, is seldom a redemptive experience for anyone.

Not the prisoner, certainly, who often goes from bad to worse behind bars. Not society, which hasn’t improved during the prisoner’s incarceration and then has a worse problem to deal with when he’s released.

Often enough, not even the victims or their families, who get no real sense of closure or healing from the trial or the imprisonment of the offender.

“The Redemption Project With Van Jones,” a powerful eight-part CNN series premiering on Sunday, April 28 at 9pm (ET/PT), dramatically highlights an important movement in criminal justice called restorative justice.

Among other benefits, research shows that victim-offender mediation leads to greater satisfaction for both victims and offenders and reduces recidivism rates.

Restorative justice allows victims to have a voice, promotes offender accountability and focuses on healing for victims and offenders as well as their families and the wider community.

Victim-impact panels and direct or indirect victim-offender communication, ranging from offender apology letters to facilitated personal encounters, are all parts of restorative justice.