CNN’s The Redemption Project with Van Jones puts criminals and victims together in restorative justice process

Van Jones pairs victims of crimes and their perpetrators in a groundbreaking new TV series on CNN. Pic credit: CNN
Van Jones pairs victims of crimes and their perpetrators in a groundbreaking new TV series on CNN. Pic credit: CNN

Can you forgive? Can you forget? Is there really closure when someone has taken a precious life from you or unalterably changed the course of your life or a loved one’s life?

These are big questions and concepts that Van Jones tackles on CNN with an important television project that will open a lot of eyes as to how people heal from a traumatic loss to the state-by-state inequities in prison sentencing.

The Redemption Project with Van Jones precedes the Emmy Award-winning United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell which airs afterward at 10 p.m. ET/PT Sundays on CNN.

This eight-part CNN Original Series is created and executive produced by Jonas Bell Pasht and Jonah Bekhor of Citizen Jones and Academy-Award-nominated director Jason Cohen.

The show will follow the restorative justice process in every episode as the victim, or surviving family members of a life-altering crime are put face-to-face with their offender in the hopes of some sort of bridge building or healing process.

People sit “knee to knee” according to Jones and share their feelings and their remorse.  Some of these encounters are revelatory and others less so, where the victims cannot forgive but there is always some sort of beneficial result.

Every possible human emotion will be shown on this series as Van Jones serves as a producer on the show along with director Jason
Cohen, and together they have eight episodes with varying degrees of forgiveness and redemption.

Jones serves as a guide for the viewer throughout this transformational experience.

CNN says: “Through unique access to the U.S. prison system, this powerful series explores the human potential for redemption.”

In an interview with Movieguide, Jones said:

“I feel like [CNN] The Redemption Project is my sermon and I feel like the Reformed Alliance where I work is my ministry and we’re working it to change a lot of these laws through the Reform Alliance… but the I see [this project] literally as as a sermon. It’s a story that we’re trying to tell.

In a press release statement from CNN, Jones said:

“I wanted to do The Redemption Project because I think we have lost our sense of grace and empathy and the capacity to forgive in our culture, at the highest levels,” said Jones. “This series is my attempt to put some medicine into our very sick system and to uplift people who are doing extraordinarily courageous things every day.”

In the first episode, Jones heads to Los Angeles to meet with Mariah Lucas, a 25-year-old mother of three whose own mother was murdered when she was a toddler.

Mariah faces the killer, Jason Clark, who stabbed her mother in a drug-fueled argument revolving around money.

Extra materials include Jones’ new CNN-produced podcast, Incarceration Inc. with Van Jones, available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms beginning Monday, May 6.

In the four-episode series, Jones goes behind the numbers of America’s mass incarceration industry to educate people to the abuses of sentencing and the class system issues of prison and how it is squarely rigged against the poorer citizens who cannot buy their way out of jail with a lawyer.

The Redemption Project with Van Jones at 9 p.m. ET/PT and the season four premiere of the Emmy Award-winning United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sunday on CNN.


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