Now airing on CNN: 'The Redemption Project with Van Jones,' from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jason Cohen
Gripping series puts convicted offenders "face-to-face with those impacted by their violent crimes"
The new CNN docu-series The Redemption Project with Van Jones, created and directed by Academy Award nominee Jason Cohen, comes with an intriguing tagline: "Face the past. Heal the future."
The "past" referred to could not be more shattering--violent crimes that left a trail of victims, and devastated families. To "heal the future" the series proposes a daring form of restorative justice--to put members of those families face-to-face with perpetrators of the crimes.
Restorative justice seeks to heal the harm caused by crime. Instead of focusing on retribution, it focuses on rehabilitation.
"Through unique access to the U.S. prison system, this powerful series explores the human potential for redemption," CNN writes of the show, which debuted April 28.
In episode 4 of the eight-episode series, set to air this Sunday (May 19) at 9pm ET/PT, host Van Jones "heads to Alaska to witness the first ever dialogue between a victim and an offender in the history of the Alaskan prison system." Future episodes take him to Indiana, Wisconsin, as well as Bakersfield and Sacramento, California.
The series shares a thematic parallels to Cohen's 2014 film Facing Fear, which earned him an Oscar nomination. That documentary short presents "a story of forgiveness between a former Neo-Nazi and the gay victim of his hate crime attack 25 years earlier."
The series expands Jones' profile on CNN, where he hosts The Van Jones Show and serves as a regular commentator on politics. Jones is a leading advocate for sentencing reform and has spoken out about the detrimental impact of mass incarceration. He is a co-founder and board member of #cut50, an initiative to "cut crime and incarceration in all 50 states by translating local needs into smart safety solutions."
Watch the trailer for The Redemption Project with Van Jones below. The series runs through Sunday, June 16 on CNN.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.