Two North Carolinians – State Rep. Marcia Morey and Brandy Bynum Dawson – are being recognized as leaders in youth justice reform by the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), based in Washington, D.C. The leadership awards honor advocates working at the state level who have championed the cause of youth justice reform. These individuals have shown themselves to be true friends of and advocates for youth in trouble with the law, and the awards recognize their commitment to creating a smaller, fairer, and more equitable juvenile justice system.

“We wanted to honor these leaders because they understand that North Carolina’s youth justice system is like a maze, with too many entrances and lots of dead ends,” said Sarah Bryer, the executive director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “They’ve each done crucial work to redesign the maze with fewer entrances and clearer pathways out, so that our justice system makes sense and kids can be rehabilitated and contribute to their communities.”

Brandy Bynum Dawson

We recognize Brandy Bynum Dawson, Rural Forward NC associate director and a member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Juvenile Justice & Children’s Rights Section, because of her decade plus commitment to raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina, which laid the groundwork and inspired the final passage of the Raise the Age legislation. “Brandy has engaged in exceptional advocacy and serves as a visionary leader for youth justice system reform in North Carolina,” said Ricky Watson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project. “Her deep and passionate support of young people has positively impacted the trajectory of so many.”

We are recognizing State Rep. Marcia Morey for her long-standing work and significant successful efforts to create diversion programs and to change the age of jurisdiction in North Carolina. Her efforts have created positive momentum for further reform throughout the state and across the country. “We nominated Representative Morey because of her courageous and compassionate work to help create sensible and sustainable justice policies for all North Carolinians,” said Peggy Nicholson, co-director of the Youth Justice Project, a North Carolina youth justice reform organization which nominated her for the honor. “During her time in the General Assembly, and as a judge before that, Representative Morey has distinguished herself by working with a variety of community partners, fellow legislators, and the Governor’s office to keep our communities safe and support better outcomes for youth and their families.”

The awards will be given July 17, 2018, at an annual gathering of youth justice advocates from across the country. This year, the conference is hosted in Durham, N.C.

The National Juvenile Justice Network is composed of coalitions, organizations and alumni of the Youth Justice Leadership Institute across 41 states and the District of Columbia, all of whom advocate for a fairer justice system for children and teens.