About Us


dedicated to understanding how racial minorities are disproportionately represented in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

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Our Mission & Approach

We conduct detailed studies that account for all potential explanations, including socio-economic factors. When individuals are similar in all ways except for their race or ethnicity, and have vastly different outcomes in the criminal or juvenile justice systems, we can conclude that those systems are unjust. 

If and when we find examples of unfair treatment, we will strive to create recommendations for reform that have support from all of our professionally diverse Commission members. NC-CRED meets four times a year to review research, significant developments regarding race and criminal law, and to discuss collaborative solutions for racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Committees meet regularly throughout the year to tackle a variety of pertinent issues and make recommendations to the full Commission.

Board and Staff Members

James E. Williams, Jr. (Chair)

James E. Williams, Jr. (Chair)

Former Public Defender, Orange and Chatham Counties

Mr. Williams began his career in criminal defense in 1982 as an assistant public defender in Charlotte. Thirty-two years later he retired as Public Defender of Orange and Chatham counties.

Mr. Williams earned both a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a law degree from Duke University. He is a member of a number of boards, task forces, and work groups. He chairs the North Carolina Public Defenders’ Association Committee on Racial Equity and is a current member of the North Carolina Chief Justice Commission on Professionalism.  

Daryl Atkinson

Daryl Atkinson

Co-Director, Forward Justice

Mr. Atkinson is an experienced civil and human rights attorney who presently serves as Co-Director with Forward Justice. Previously, he was Senior Staff Attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) where he focused on criminal justice reform issues, particularly removing the legal barriers triggered by contact with the criminal justice system. He received a B.A. in Political Science from Benedict College, Columbia, SC and a J.D. from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, MN.

Kami Chavis

Kami Chavis

Associate Provost & Dir. of Criminal Justice Prog., Wake Forest Law School

Jim Coleman

Jim Coleman

Law Professor & Co-Director, Wrongful Convictions Clinic, Duke University

Professor Jim Coleman is a graduate of Columbia University (J.D. 1974),  and Harvard University (A.B. 1970) who joined the Duke faculty full-time in 1996, where his teaching responsibilities include criminal law, wrongful convictions, and appellate litigation.  His academic work, conducted through the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility, centers on the legal, political, and scientific causes of wrongful convictions and how they can be prevented.  His administrative work for the University has included chairing the Lacrosse ad hoc Review Committee in 2006, and chairing the Athletic Council (2010-present).

Melissa Neal Stein

Melissa Neal Stein

Senior Project Associate, Policy Research Associates Charlotte, NC

Ms. Stein is a public health professional who specializes in creating effective criminal justice systems and healthy communities. She graudated from Elon University and has both a masters and doctorate in public health from East Tennessee State University.

Ms. Stein joined Policy Research Associates in 2017 as Senior Research Associate where she leads national communications and technical assistance disseminated through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s GAINS Center. Previously, she served in various capacities with Mecklenburg County Criminal Justice Services in Charlotte as well as the Justice Policy Institute and Planning & Learning Technologies in Washington, D.C. She is a sub-committee member of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice.

Jim Woodall

Jim Woodall

District Attorney, District 15B, Orange & Chatham County

Stephen Raburn

Stephen Raburn

Executive Director, North Carolina Commission on Racial & Ethnic Disparities

Mr. Raburn has spent the past three decades in the nonprofit sector – primarily in leadership roles. His experience includes founding and directing The Center for Child Advocacy & Research, a national think tank based in California, as well as a special needs adoption agency in Charlotte. Additionally, Stephen served as Executive Director for a therapeutic program for abused and neglected children on site of a 13-acre ranch in Napa Valley, which he led until returning to North Carolina to direct the Triangle Nonprofit & Volunteer Leadership Center. He was hired as NC CRED’s Executive Director in October, 2019.


Commission Members

  • Daryl Atkinson – Co-Director, Forward Justice
  • Chris Blue – Chief of Police, Chapel Hill Police Department
  • Kami Chavis – Director of Criminal Justice Program & Professor of Law, Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Jim Coleman – Director of the Center for Criminal Justice and Professional Responsibility; Co-Director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic, Duke University School of Law
  • Emily Coward – Project Attorney, Indigent Defense Education, UNC School of Government 
  • Stormie Forte – Attorney 
  • Dennis Gaddy – Executive Director, Community Success Initiative
  • Rick Glazier – Executive Director, NC Justice Center
  • Dionne Gonder-Stanley –Clinical Associate Professor, NC Central University School of Law
  • Jon Guze – Director of Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
  • Thomas Maher – Executive Director, Center for Science & Justice, Duke Law School
  • Jasmine McGhee – Special Deputy Attorney General & Director, Public Protection Section
  • LeAnn Melton –Chief Public Defender, Buncombe County 
  • James Moore –  Former Chief of Police, City of Rocky Mount
  • Marcia Morey – Representative, North Carolina State House
  • Melissa Neal Stein – Senior Research Associate, Policy Research Associates
  • Raul Pinto  – Staff Attorney, NC Justice Center
  • Kristie Puckett-Williams –Statewide Campaign for Smart Justice Manager, ACLU of NC
  • Stephen Raburn – Executive Director, NC CRED
  • Tonza Ruffin – Attorney, Ruffin Law Firm, Halifax, NC
  • Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman – President, NAACP North Carolina
  • Gerda Stein – Director of Public Information, Center for Death Penalty Litigation
  • The Honorable Mary Ann Tally – Superior Court Judge, District 12C
  • Gabe Talton – Staff Attorney, Law Offices of James Scott Farrin
  • The Honorable Louis Trosch, Jr. – Superior Court Judge, District 26
  • The Honorable Gregory A. Weeks – Former Superior Court Judge
  • James E. Williams, Jr. – Former Public Defender, District 15B
  • The Honorable James R. Woodall – District Attorney, Chatham and Orange Counties
  • Eric Zogry – State Juvenile Defender, NC Office of the Juvenile Defender

How We Work

We seek common ground by engaging
in thorough, vigorous, and respectful dialogue.

We study problems and use data and evidence
to inform recommendations on policy and practices. 

Our Core Values


We have a bold vision and dedicate ourselves to learning and continuous improvement to effect the changes we seek.


We commit ourselves to bringing racial equity to the center of policymaking and reform efforts.


Our greatest strength is derived from diverse perspectives brought by committed people from different backgrounds.


We believe voicing unpopular or contentious views is a courageous act necessary for real dialogue.

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