Darren B. Easterling was a loving son, a funny brother, an affectionate father, a talented athlete, a young man who wanted more than anything else to "just be successful". But after his murder the media chose to depict him one way, with this headline: "Man Shot to death in Park Forest, IL. had weapon, drug convictions".
On July 22, 2012, a contentious drug deal cost 25 year-old Darren his life. The young man accused of his murder lost his freedom. Frustrated by the media's one-dimensional portrayal of her son as a worthless thug, Lisa D. Daniels established the Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices to redefine Darren's legacy and the legacies of so many young men who live and die like him every day.
In keeping with the principles of restorative justice--which seeks to honor and heal every person affected by crime, even the perpetrators--the Center incites change in individuals from the inside out. Catering to young men with criminal backgrounds, their mothers who are burdened with the grief of their lifestyle choices and children who have experienced the traumas commonly associated with violence, the Center programs nurture spirit, strive for resolution, and foster healing victim by victim, offender by offender, person by person.
In this human family, we are all broken, but we all deserve a chance for redemption. Like each and every one of us, Darren was a flawed human being, created in God's perfect image. Without the Center, his life would have ended in a blaze of gunfire. Now it carries on in an illumination of promise, of hope, of love.