Youth Justice Project (YJP), a project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), works to ensure equity, fairness, and justice for youth in high-quality education, juvenile, and criminal systems.

We strive to provide resources for stakeholders, improve collaboration and communication among youth justice advocates, increase awareness about youth justice issues, and support directly impacted youth and communities to achieve youth justice reform.

Prior to 2015, YJP was an independent nonprofit organization called Youth Justice North Carolina (YJNC). YJNC was founded in 2013 by a group of dedicated advocates and professionals who saw the need for a statewide organization focused solely on youth justice issues. In January 2015, YJNC merged with SCSJ and the name was changed to Youth Justice Project.

SCSJ is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in August 2007 in Durham, North Carolina by a multidisciplinary group, predominantly people of color, who believe that families and communities engaged in social justice struggles need a team of lawyers, social scientists, community organizers and media specialists to support them in their efforts to dismantle structural racism and oppression. SCSJ partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the south to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights through the combination of legal advocacy, research, organizing and communications.


YJP’s vision is that all people and institutions will treat youth with love, empathy, fairness, respect, and dignity, and fulfill their other basic human needs.


YJP’s mission is to ensure equity, fairness, and justice for youth in high-quality education, juvenile, and criminal systems.

Guiding Principles

All youth:

  • Possess value, potential, and unique strengths and needs;
  • Are fundamentally different from adults, and should be treated as such;
  • Are rights-bearing persons who should be meaningfully involved and heard in matters affecting them;
  • Deserve to be free of racism, classism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination;
  • Deserve supports and services necessary to be healthy, well-educated, safe, and economically secure;
  • Deserve systems and communities that are warm, welcoming, loving, caring, and safe;
  • Deserve laws, policies, and practices impacting them to be based on research, data, and principles of cooperation and positive youth development, not based on profit, competition, and control;
  • Deserve a high-quality education that enables them to both develop skills and knowledge and become critical, courageous, creative thinkers in a self-governing democracy; and
  • Who encounter the juvenile and criminal systems should be protected and rehabilitated.

Advisory Council

YJP is advised by a council of youth justice advocates and experts consisting of:

Barbara Fedders, University of North Carolina School of Law, Assistant Professor and Youth Justice Clinic Co-Director
Brandy Bynum, Rural Forward NC, Associate Director
Christopher Hill, Attorney
Keith Howard, The Law Offices of Keith L. Howard, Managing Partner
Mark Trustin, Trustin Law, Attorney
Jane Wettach, Duke Law School, Director of Children’s Law Clinic
Eric Zogry, Office of the Juvenile Defender


  • Peggy Nicholson, YJP Co-Director, (919) 323-3380 ext. 164, peggynicholson@scsj.org
  • Ricky Watson, YJP Co-Director, (919) 323-3380 ext. 160, rickywatsonjr@scsj.org