Our Mission & Approach
NC CRED is a nonpartisan organization that works across professional, political and ideological lines to identify, document, and develop strategies to reduce racial disparities in North Carolina’s juvenile and criminal justice systems. NC CRED brings together a diverse group of more than 30 criminal justice leaders and stakeholders who share a commitment to building a more equitable, effective, and humane criminal justice system throughout the state. Represented on the Commission are judges, Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement leaders; District Attorneys, Public Defenders, community advocates, law professors, and scholars. We’re pursuing innovative, empirically-based solutions to reform the criminal justice system. The Commission envisions a criminal and juvenile justice system that is fair, humane, and effective.
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.
LEARNING & RESPECT
We believe voicing unpopular or contentious views is a courageous act necessary for real dialogue.
Board & Staff Members
James E. Williams, Jr. (Chair)
Mr. Williams received a B.A. in Political Science and J.D. from Duke University. He was Chief Public Defender for Orange and Chatham Counties from 1990-2017 and previously the Felony Chief of the Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office. While a member of the N.C. Advocates for Justice Board of Governors, Mr. Williams helped establish and served as Chair of the Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Criminal Justice System which ultimately led to the establishment of the NC CRED. Mr. Williams is also a founder and Board member of the N.C. Public Defender Committee on Racial Equity and serves on numerous boards, including the N.C. Fines and Fees Coalition, National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts, N.C. Association of Black Lawyers, Orange Bias Free Policing Coalition. He serves as Co-chair of the District 18 Bar Racial Justice Force. He has received numerous awards, including the N.C. Advocates for Justice Thurgood Marshall Award, the MLK University/ Community Planning Inc. MLK Jr. Citizenship Award, the N.C. ACLU Champion of Justice Award, and the North Carolina Bar Association James McNeil Smith Jr. Award.
Melissa Neal Stein (Secretary)
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.
Thomas Maher began practicing as a criminal defense attorney in North Carolina after spending two years clerking for a federal appellate judge. Maher has appeared in state and federal court on charges that range from DWI to capital murder, handling trials, appeals and post-conviction cases. He served as co-counsel in the high-profile defense of Michael Peterson, featured in the documentary The Staircase. In addition to many years as a litigator, Maher also served as Executive Director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, and as Executive Director for the North Carolina Office of Indigent Defense Services, the agency that supports public defense in North Carolina. Maher received the Friend of the Court award, which is the highest award from the North Carolina court system. He teaches trial practice skills to law students at Duke University School of Law and teaches lawyers through the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America and is AV rated in Martindale-Hubbell. He earned his undergraduate degree in 1979 at Northwestern University and his law degree in 1982 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bill Rowe is semi-retired and is currently a Senior Advisor with the NC Justice Center. The Justice Center is a statewide, non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to securing economic justice for disadvantaged persons and communities. After 6 years as a staff attorney with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and East Central Community Legal services. Bill came to the Justice Center’s predecessor organization, the N.C. Legal Services Resource Center in 1991 and has been with the Justice Center since its inception in 1996. He served as executive director of the Justice Center from 2001 to 2004 and most recently as General Counsel/Deputy Director of Advocacy. Bill has represented members of the state’s low-income communities in a variety of litigation, including class actions, and before the legislature and state agencies on issues related to housing, employment, consumer rights, judicial procedures, criminal justice, and environmental matters.
Christopher C. Blue joined the Chapel Hill Police Department in 1997. He served as a patrol officer, Crime Prevention officer, SERT Commander, Patrol Commander, Assistant Police Chief, and in a variety of other positions before he was appointed to the position of Police Chief in 2010. In 2017, he was named as Chapel Hill’s Executive Director for Community Safety, retaining direct responsibility for Police and Parking and adding the Building and Development Services Department to his portfolio. He retired from the Chapel Hill Police Department in December of 2022. Chris received a Bachelor of Arts in Radio, Television, and Motion Pictures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s in Public Administration from North Carolina State University. He is a 2004 graduate of the Administrative Officers Management Program at North Carolina State University. He twice served as President of the North Carolina Police Executives Association, and he is a member of the NC Association of Chiefs of Police and International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is also active in his community, serving on the Board of Trustees of Coastal Horizons, as a Board member and immediate past-President for Volunteers for Youth, and as a member of the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force. In 2020, he was elected Chair of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission where he continues to serve. Chris and his wife, Natasha, have been married for 27 years and they have two daughters.
- Chris Blue – Chief of Police, Chapel Hill Police Department
- Tarrah Callahan – Executive Director, Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform
- Jeremy Collins – CEO of Blackacre and Founder of Providence Omnistructure
- Emily Coward – Project Attorney, Indigent Defense Education, UNC School of Government
- Stormie Forte – Attorney, Raleigh City Council Member
- Thomas Maher – Attorney, Law Offices of Amos Tyndall, PLLC
- Jasmine McGhee – Special Deputy Attorney General & Director, Public Protection Section
- James Moore – Former Chief of Police, City of Rocky Mount
- Raul Pinto – Staff Attorney, NC Justice Center
- Kristie Puckett-Williams –Statewide Campaign for Smart Justice Manager, ACLU of NC
- Melissa Stein – Senior Research Associate, Policy Research Associates
- The Honorable Louis Trosch, Jr. – Superior Court Judge, District 26
- James D. “Butch” Williams – Senior Partner, The Law Offices of James D. Williams, Jr. P.A.
- James E. Williams, Jr. – Former Public Defender, District 15B
- Eric Zogry – State Juvenile Defender, NC Office of the Juvenile Defender