On May 8th 2019, HDA hosted over one hundred guests at a preview screening of The Redemption Project and a panel discussion with Van Jones at a private residence in Hancock Park. 

The Redemption Project with Van Jones is an eight-part CNN Original Series produced by Citizen Jones. Each episode follows the victim – or surviving family members – of a life-altering crime as they journey to meet face-to-face with their offender in the hopes of finding answers or seeking some sense of healing. 

Healing Dialogue and Action is proud to have played an integral role in the creation of The Redemption Project. HDA’s Program Coordinator, Jason Clark, and the dialogue he had with the daughter of his victim, Mariah, was a catalyst for the series’ creation. 

Javier Stauring, Executive Director of Healing Dialogue and Action, facilitated two Dialogues for The Redemption Project. One of these episodes was screened at the May 8th event. 

Guests were deeply impacted by the screening. The episode showcased will be aired on CNN June 9th and documents Gunner Johnson’s journey to meeting Chris Branscombe, the man who shot him three times and took the life of his best friend.

After this devastating event, Chris and Gunner’s lives were  turned upside down.Gunner battled addiction for many years and ended up in prison himself before he was able to get the help he needed to recover and turn his life around. Meanwhile, Chris was working hard to become a better person and transform his life from behind bars. During his incarceration, he began unpacking his own trauma that led him to commit this act of violence and went on to start a self-help group for other men in prison. Over two decades after the event, Gunner and Chris sat down for this dialogue, their first time face to face since the trial. During their conversation, the men were able to find healing and closure they could only find in and through each other.

Guests pinned their commitments to furthering this work on the commitment wall.

The morning of the screening, Javier and Gunner were in Lancaster State Prison. May 8th 2019 was also the day of Chris Branscombe’s first parole hearing and Javier and Gunner were there to advocate for his release. Chris’ transformation was apparent to the commissioners and he was granted parole.

After the episode screened, Javier, Van, Gunner, and Jason gathered in front of the crowd for a panel discussion. Javier announced the good news and the attendees erupted into applause. 

HDA is grateful for all of the attendees who took time to learn about our work and the transformational impact of restorative justice. It was a truly powerful evening. Also, a special thanks to all the individuals that contributed to make this event a success and everyone involved in the creation of The Redemption Project. Elevating HDA’s work on media platforms helps us gather the support we need from the community and lawmakers to affect change and further our mission of creating a more equitable justice systems that prioritize healing.