- October 28, 2014
- 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco
3200 California Street
San Francisco, California 94118
Unlikely Friends: Total Strangers, Brutal Crimes, by filmmaker Leslie Neale, documents victims of brutal crimes who, through forgiveness, unexpectedly become friends with their perpetrators.
These relationships, so unfathomable for most of us, open our thinking to new possibilities of how to transform a system ensconced in punishment and retribution to one of restorative justice that is based in humanity.
This film screening is co-hosted by CIIS and Insight Prison Project (IPP). Proceeds benefit CIIS' Arc of Justice Scholarship Fund for formerly incarcerated men and women to complete their Bachelor's Degree, and IPP's work to foster insight and lasting behavioral change by providing rehabilitative tools to prisoners in California correctional systems.
6 pm: Registration
6:30 pm: Program Starts
7 - 8 pm: Film Screening
8 - 8:45 pm: *Panel Discussion*
8:45 - 9:30 pm: VIP Reception
Leslie Neale, and her films are recognized for their impact on social justice. Her award-winning film “Road to Return,” narrated by Tim Robbins, was presented to the United States Congress, prompting a bill authorizing 6 million dollars for prison aftercare. “Juvies,” narrated by Mark Wahlberg, toured the world as one of the top ten “Human Rights Watch” films of 2005. “Juvies” also screened at the United Nations, encouraging the first ever conference on juvenile justice, won many awards and aired on HBO. Her films encourage in-depth examination of these topics with an uncommon sensitivity.
Luis Aroche is a native of San Francisco. Aroche's mother a war refugee from El Salvador and father a former U.S. merchant marine from Puerto Rico settled their family of 5, in a tiny one bedroom apartment in the Mission District, blocks away from the then-notorious Army Street Projects. As a child, Aroche was exposed to extreme street violence. He recalls struggling every day to stay alive by dodging drug dealers, crack addicts and gang-members .By the 9th grade Aroche dropped out of high school and fell deep into Criminal Justice System. At the age of 15 years old, Aroche was sentence to serve 3 years at juvenile detention center for high risk youth.
In 1996, at the age of 18, Aroche was released from custody and went on to earn his High School equivalency diploma at John Adams Night School. He continued on his path to redefine himself by enrolling into City College of San Francisco transferring to San Francisco State University but eventually finding his home at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) becoming a part of the first cohort to receive the Barbara Garcia/George Mascone scholarship.
Aroche is also the first District Attorney's Alternative Sentencing Planner in the State of California. In 2012, Aroche was hired by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón to help pioneer a new path in prosecution that focuses on reducing recidivism by identifying the needs of the defendant through evidence best practices. Aroche's innovating work has been highlighted on Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle and NBC Latino.
As a high dropout, troubled youth and formerly incarcerated, Aroche is a firm believer in the power of second chance.
Aroche has a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from California Institute of Integral Studies and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of San Francisco, School of Management.
FANIA DAVIS, J.D., Ph.D.
RJOY’s Executive Director, Fania Davis, is an African-American woman, long-time social justice activist, a restorative justice scholar and professor, and a civil rights attorney with a Ph.D. in indigenous knowledge.
Coming of age in Birmingham, Alabama during the social ferment of the civil rights era, the murder of two close childhood friends in the 1963 Sunday School bombing crystallized within Fania a passionate commitment to social transformation. For the next decades, she was active in the civil rights, Black liberation, women’s, prisoners’, peace, socialist, anti-imperialist, anti-racial violence and anti-apartheid movements.
After receiving her law degree from University of California, Berkeley in 1979, Fania practiced almost 27 years as a civil rights trial lawyer. During the late 1990’s, she entered a Ph.D. program in indigenous studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and apprenticed with traditional healers around the globe, particularly in Africa. Fania has since taught Restorative Justice at San Francisco ‘s New College Law School and Indigenous Peacemaking at Eastern Mennonite University‘s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
Founding Director of RJOY, Fania also serves as counsel to the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Honors include the Ubuntu Service to Humanity award, the Maloney award recognizing exceptional contributions in youth-based restorative justice, and World Trust's Healing Justice award. Fania is also a mother, grandmother, dancer, and practitioner of yoga.
Sonya Shah, MFA, is Associate Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). She is also the Justice Program Director at Insight Prison Project and responsible for the oversight of the Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG) program. Sonya serves on the leadership team for Californians for Safety and Justice and was recently elected to the EJUSA advisory board based in New York.
Since the murder of her son, Christopher, in 1996, Radha Stern has devoted herself to helping others who have lost a loved one due to a violent crime. She is the author of "Griefprints" and a contributor to the inspirational book “Courage does not always Roar: Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage." Stern is active in the the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Insight Prison Project, as well as The Compassionate Friends, an organization for parents who have lost a child. She is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation and also volunteers at the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.
In 2005, her police officer husband was killed in the line of duty. Even though her husband's killer was caught, convicted, and sent to Death Row, Dionne found herself lost in vengeance, hatred, and pain. As she tried to find ways to cope with her grief, Dionne began to recognize that our justice system pays no attention to repairing harm for the victims, or to accountability/rehabilitation for offenders, or to the long term safety of the community. So Dionne decided to try a different path—And she found that what ultimately brought her healing was working to change a broken criminal justice system. Her mission now is to advocate for services that break the cycle of violence: Trauma recovery for victims, drug treatment, mental health services, education, and job training. Dionne is the Survivor Outreach Coordinator for Californians for Safety & Justice (Safe & Just). She speaks with crime survivors from every walk of life all across the state of California and she’s found that the majority of survivors share her values and want to add their voices to this fresh perspective on smart justice.