The Restorative Justice Project on 60 Minutes and The Redemption Project on CNN
60 Minutes recently profiled a program at the University of Wisconsin Law School in which survivors of serious, violent crime meet with the responsible parties for face-to-face dialogue after extensive individual preparation. The show features several program participants, including Angel Wendt, a young school teacher with four children whose brother Michael was killed by a drunk driver nine years ago. The driver, Lee Namtvedt, is serving 10 years for his crime, but Wendt began to feel she too was imprisoned…by her hatred for him.
“I was a monster. It was terrible. I can honestly say that, now, looking back at that time in my life, I was a terrible mother. I was a terrible teacher… and that’s not what I wanted to be.”
She reached out to The Restorative Justice Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and five years after her brother was killed, she met with the driver. They talked for hours. Namtvedt reflected on their conversation,
“I was just amazed at her kindness and caring and her compassion and– it’s not easy. I can’t imagine that’s easy to do, coming to a prison and forgive the guy who killed your brother.”
In the meantime, The Redemption Project with Van Jones continues to air on Sundays at 9:00PM Eastern Time. Through the stories of eight survivors and perpetrators of violence, Jones explores the impact of the crimes and the value of restorative dialogue for those that choose to participate. We generally assume that after sentencing, survivors and perpetrators will never meet again. But in some cases, survivors come to feel that another step, another process, is necessary for them to heal and to move on with their lives. This is where the restorative justice process known as “Victim-Offender Dialogue” comes in. We encourage you to tune in and watch the remaining episodes.