Rhode Island 2017
GlobeDocs, Peace on Earth, Sedona
A woman whose son was brutally killed practices restorative justice.
In 2001, Janet Connors learned that her 19-year-old son, Joel, had been stabbed to death. A low-level drug-dealer, Joel had been targeted by a rival gang. As Julie Mallozzi’s project shows, rather than allow her grief to turn to vengeance, Janet sought a more positive solution, even after one of the four young men who were charged with Joel’s murder was set free. She reached out to the perpetrators and offered not only forgiveness, but hope that they could turn their lives around. Over the past 18 years, Janet has formalized this kind of restorative justice by borrowing from Native American traditions and setting up peace circles – forums in which individuals impacted by violence can discuss their feelings and look for better ways to move forward. Mallozzi’s earnest film is best when it’s focused on Janet, stumbling when it instead expands its own circle to try to include other perspectives without providing enough space to fully explore these additional stories.