The Youth Justice Project (YJP)works to ensure equity, fairness, and justice for youth in high-quality education, juvenile, and criminal systems.
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.
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.
We believe 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
- Should be protected and rehabilitated when they encounter the juvenile and criminal systems.
Raise the Age
In 2017, North Carolina legislators included Raise-the-Age legislation in the budget for implementation in December 2019. Once implemented, North Carolina will no longer be the last state in the nation to prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.
The Youth Justice Project will continue to educate impacted communities about the Raise-the-Age legislation, their rights in the juvenile and criminal legal systems, and opportunities/challenges still facing our youth. Children who are 16- and 17-years-old will still be charged as adults until December 2019.
Misdemeanor Diversion Programs
The Youth Justice Project works to support innovative partnerships and programs that keep youth out of the court system. In North Carolina, an example of this is our work with pre-arrest Misdemeanor Diversion Programs (MDPs). MDPs are diversion programs for 16- and 17-year olds that operate pre-arrest and pre-charge, before a child has to face all of the pitfalls of entering the criminal legal system.
The major responsibility of the Youth Justice Project’s Youth Steering Committee is to advise and partner with the Youth Justice Project to ensure we are doing all we can to effectively help young people. Steering committee members learn necessary skills for advancing change in their own community such as writing and public speaking skills. Members also meet with and discuss issues relating to education, juvenile justice, and criminal justice with major stakeholders in Durham, including elected officials, non-profit leaders, and community activists.
Racial Equity Report Cards
Racial Equity Report Cards use public data to provide a snapshot of a community’s school-to-prison pipeline, including any racial disproportionalities that exist in the pipeline. There is a Report Card for each of the state’s 115 school districts and one for the state as a whole.
Know Your Rights
YJP has produced a wallet “Know Your Rights” card that outlines 1) an individual’s rights when interacting with law enforcement; 2) general tips for interacting with law enforcement; and 3) what to do if an officer violates your rights. We encourage you to print a card for yourself and distribute cards to any youth you work with or know.