Directed by Julie Mallozzi (USA, 2017, 67 min.). Digital.

Local filmmaker Julie Mallozzi’s moving documentary follows a woman named Janet Connors, whose son Joel was murdered in Boston by four young men on a tragic winter night in 2001. She sits in the courtroom, a muted spectator, as the trials devolve into slander and theater. Three of the men make a plea agreement, but the main perpetrator walks free on “reasonable doubt.” Realizing that she needs to make her own justice, Janet seeks out two of the men who killed her son. But instead of exacting vengeance, she looks for humanity. She fights the bureaucracy to become the first person in Massachusetts to hold a victim-offender dialogue through the corrections system. When one of the murderers is released from prison, she calls him to her son’s grave.

Followed by a discussion with panelists Julie Mallozzi, Janet Connors, “AJ,” and Clarissa Turner. 

Panelists: 

Julie Mallozzi is a documentary filmmaker, teacher, and community activist. Her films explore the ways culture is “repurposed” to address contemporary social issues. Julie is passionate about using storytelling to advance social justice, and enjoys presenting and giving workshops at schools, prisons, survivor groups, and other organizations. She also produces media for community and government organizations. Julie received her BA from Harvard University and her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute and has taught filmmaking at four colleges. 

Janet Connors is a long-time community and social-justice activist in Boston’s neighborhoods. She brings over 45 years of experience working with youth and families in community-based organizations. Janet is a frequent public speaker and has participated on many panels at various forums locally and nationally.  She was presented a Leadership in Community and Restorative Justice Award by Howard Zehr, the Chomsky Peace and Justice Award by the Justice Studies Association, and the Mothers of Courage award by Mothers for Justice and Equality. Janet works in schools, local and federal courts, prisons, and community settings as a circle keeper, restorative-justice practitioner, and trainer.

AJ” grew up in the predominantly Irish-American housing projects of South Boston. After a troubled childhood with an abusive, alcoholic father, AJ became ensnarled in street life and became one of four men responsible for the murder of Joel Turner in 2001. With the help of the victim’s mother, Janet Connors, AJ turned his life around.  Having served his ten-year prison term, he is now married with two young boys and works full-time. AJ is happy to share his story if it can help others—in particular young people caught up in the streets who are learning the impact of their decisions. 

Clarissa Turner has significant experience working with families during important transitions in their lives. She has worked as a doula at Boston Medical Center, a counselor at A Woman’s Concern, a parent educator and counselor at St. Mary’s Home/Shelter, and a family partner at Children Services of Roxbury. The tragic loss of her son to violence in 2011 has given Clarissa a special perspective on youthful offending and the lasting impact of crime on communities. A mother of six, Clarissa founded Legacy Lives On, Inc., an organization dedicated to supporting the entire community during times of loss. Clarissa strives to provide youth and their affected communities a sense of understanding, resilience, compassion, and empowerment to move productively past serious trauma.


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