Criminal Law and Justice

Survivors Choose Healing and Restoration

November 11, 2021  • Criminal Justice Reform Initiative

When offered the choice, violence survivors will choose restorative justice over prison time for those responsible. In the case of the nonprofit Common Justice, 90% of survivors of violent crimes agree to meet with the responsible party, and allow alternative punishments to time in prison.

Common Justice’s founder, Danielle Sered, joins us in conversation about the remarkable work of this nonprofit and the people – both survivors and responsible persons – whose lives have been impacted, and how such alternatives meet the deep, underlying needs of survivors for more meaningful closure. Sered also discusses alternatives to policing, and how these too can offer communities, long harmed by the justice system, the chance to heal and find safety on their own terms.

Guest Biography

Danielle Sered envisioned, launched, and directs the nonprofit organization Common Justice. She leads the project’s efforts locally and nationally to develop and advance practical and groundbreaking solutions to violence that advance racial equity, meet the needs of those harmed, and do not rely on incarceration.  Before planning the launch of Common Justice, Sered served as the deputy director of the Vera Institute of Justice’s Adolescent Reentry Initiative, a program for young men returning from incarceration on Rikers Island. Prior to joining Vera, she worked at the Center for Court Innovation’s Harlem Community Justice Center, where she led its programs for court-involved and recently incarcerated youth.

Her book, Until We Reckon, received the Award for Journalism from the National Association for Community and Restorative Justice and was selected by the National Book Foundation for its Literature for Justice recognition.  An Ashoka fellow and Stoneleigh fellow, Sered received her BA from Emory University and her masters degrees from New York University and Oxford University (UK), where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.

About Shades of Freedom

Shades of Freedom, from The Aspen Institute Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, is a new podcast amplifying and uplifting promising efforts aimed at reducing mass incarceration, and looking at the ecosystem of related inequalities that surrounds and perpetuates incarceration.

The podcast can be found on all the major platforms, including Apple, Google, and Spotify. You can also listen from the series home page or listen to the current episode at the top of this page.

The Shades of Freedom podcast, hosted by Dr. Douglas E. Wood, Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, is named after and inspired by the book Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process, by Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.