True redemption can be hard to come by in our justice system today. And yet, we need it more than ever before. In this episode (based on an event hosted by Andreessen Horowitz’s Cultural Leadership Fund), CNN news commentator and author Van Jones and Shaka Senghor, author of the New York Times bestseller Writing my Wrongs and director’s fellow of the MIT Media Lab, discuss the U.S. prison system; the human potential for redemption; and how we begin to go about normalizing restorative justice in our society.
The conversation, introduced by a16z partner Chris Lyons, followed screening of an episode of Van Jones’ new series, The Redemption Project. The eight-part series looks at the families of victims of a life-altering crime as they come together to meet their offender; this episode featured the meeting between a police officer along with the man who shot him as a young boy of 17 years, decades earlier. The episode also includes two spoken word performances before and after the conversation, from two formerly incarcerated artists: first, Kevin Gentry, with “My Heart”; and second, Missy Hart, with “Bloom: A Trilogy.” Both are contributors to The Beat Within, a publication and organization that serves youth across California country juvenile halls and encourages literacy, self-expression, and community.