We've been talking about The VERA Institute's project to re-imagine prison this week. But to talk about reform for criminals and alternatives to incarceration also means to acknowledge the impact on victims and to consider whether imprisonment is punishment enough, or too much, and if it's the path forward to feeling safer for victims of violent crime.
Danielle Sered has been helping to carve a new way forward through her program Common Justice, a project of the VERA Institute that helps find alternatives to incarceration with victims of violence by facilitating face-to-face conversations and encouraging accountability.
“We talk to victims and ask them would you rather have the person who hurt you incarcerated or have them in Common Justice," says Sered. "Ninety percent choose Common Justice; it's a wild number.”
Sered, who is founder and director of Common Justice, is a survivor of sexual assault who has also been on the wrong side of the law. She says fundamental to misunderstanding violence in this country is misunderstanding the wants and needs of victims.