Restorative Justice Can Help Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline, NY Panel Says

NEW YORK — He knew instantly he’d made a mistake. At the last minute, he tried to protect the woman, but that only angered her assailant, who hit her harder, knocking her to the ground.

That assailant was someone Daryl Mensah-Bonsu, then 15, had considered a friend, a more popular teen who invited him along to visit some girls in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. He says he had never been in trouble before and was pressured into stealing the woman’s pocketbook along the way.

“If not for alternative justice, I don’t think I would have survived,” said Mensah-Bonsu, an entertainer who goes by the name Youngmichael. 

He was a panelist Sunday in Brooklyn, at an event the New Black Arts Movement organized to highlight programs and individuals working to stop the school-to-prison pipeline.  About 0 parents, teachers, students and community members attended. It coincided with #ReclaimMLK activities being held across the country this weekend to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by focusing on systems that work.