Youth Justice Project Wins Racial Equity Award

On Thursday, May 17, 2017, the North Carolina Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity awarded the James E. Williams, Jr. Award to Ricky Watson and Peggy Nicholson of the Youth Justice Project (YJP) of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Below is some of the great work the Committee highlighted in their award presentation:

‘The Youth Justice Project (YJP) was founded in 2015 with the mission to ensure equity, fairness, and justice for youth in high-quality education, juvenile and criminal systems. Hopefully, this is the year where we may see North Carolina raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction. YJP has worked tirelessly since 2015 to educate policymakers, youth and communities about the importance of this issue. They have organized events and meetings, participated in hearings, gathered signatures, created materials and even produced a documentary that is being screened all over North Carolina. YJP has been an early advocate of Misdemeanor Diversion Programs for 16- and 17-year-old first offenders. The group has supported their creation with resources and guidance in jurisdictions across the State. Equity informs all of YJP’s work. The organization has created Racial Equity Report Cards which analyze racial disproportionalities in public education and juvenile justice systems. It has highlighted the disparate impact of school discipline policies and they have created and distributed a “Know Your Rights” card that outlines an individual’s rights when interacting with law enforcement.’

Congratulations to Ricky and Peggy for their tireless effort to improve the lives of young people all across the south!

To check out more of the Youth Justice Project’s great work, visit

For more information on the North Carolina Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity, please visit