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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Ethan Gurwitz (Winston Churchill High School) vs. Opposition: Cooper Dean (Wood River High School)

Judge: Lucy Peterson (Bard High School Early College)

Resolution: This house believes that prisons should be abolished

  • Ethan Gurwitz
    Ethan Gurwitz

    Cooper Dean
    Cooper Dean
    Click to begin

    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 13, 2015 02:49:34PM EST by Ethan Gurwitz



    (Deborah Du Nann Winter and Dana C. Leighton, professors of psychology, STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE, Peace, Conflict, and Violence: Peace Psychology for the 21st Century, Ohio State University, 2007,

    Runstedtler, Theresa. "Let's Abolish Prison, Not Reform It -." The Good Men Project. N.p., 06 Oct. 2011. Web. 01 Apr. 2015. <>.

    Stannow, Lovisa, and David Kaiser. "Prison Rape and the Government by David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow." Prison Rape and the Government by David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow. The New York Review of Books, 24 Mar. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2015.

    [Weaver, Vesla M. Unhappy Harmony: Accounting for Black Mass Incarceration in a Post-Racial America. August, 2010. U of Virgina.]

    Wacquant, Loc. "Loc Wacquant: Deadly Symbiosis." Loc Wacquant: Deadly Symbiosis. Boston Review, Apr.-May 2002. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

    Zyl Smit, Dirk Van. Alternatives to Imprisonment. Suva, Fiji: Government Printer, 1983. Handbook of Basic Principles and Promising Practices on Alternatives to Imprisonment. United Nations, 2007. Web. 2 Apr. 2015.

    "United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime." Prison Reform and Alternatives to Imprisonment. United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, n.d. Web. 02 Apr. 2015.

    Posted at April 15, 2015 12:16:38AM EST by Cooper Dean



    IME. "Inside the World's Most Humane Prison - Photo Essays." Time. Time Inc., 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <,29307,1989083_2137374,00.html>.
    (Cont 1)

    "Imprisonment and Captivity: Civil War Prisons." Imprisonment and Captivity: Civil War Prisons. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <>.
    (CONT 2, SUB A)

    Posted at April 15, 2015 11:35:05AM EST by Ethan Gurwitz



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 17, 2015 12:17:46AM EST by Cooper Dean



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 17, 2015 02:56:40PM EST by Ethan Gurwitz



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 19, 2015 01:01:49PM EST by Lucy Peterson

    Category Ethan Gurwitz Cooper Dean
    Use of evidence: 2.8 3.5
    Delivery skill: 1.9 4.5
    Coherence of arguments: 2.9 3
    Responsiveness to opponent: 3 4.7
    Identification of key points: 4 4
    Comments: Dear Ethan,
    Good work and thank you for your enthusiasm and passion! I liked how you anchored your argument with structural violence, a very compelling reason to abolish prisons, but I was less taken with your explanation of it and the way that you connected it to prisons. While you did a good job of explaining that African Americans get funneled into prisons at a disproportionate rate, you did not take me through why prisons are the cause of that. I think your argument would have benefitted tremendously had you provided a definition of prisons from the start as well as a definition of structural violence. I would caution you to slow down significantly. It was very hard to keep up with your pace because you would briefly touch on an argument and then move on to the next one without making the connections between the arguments. It is better to say less and be thorough than to rush through a lot of points and not do any of them justice. I would also caution you against dismissing the arguments of the opposition. Do your research next time to come up with a strong rebuttal instead of sidelining those arguments. For example, Guantanamo Bay is a very controversial topic which people often refer to in order to demonstrate the immoral mistreatment of human beings. An argument stating that could have given you the win. Keep up your energy, but make sure to be deep not just efficient. Keep up the good work!
    Dear Cooper,
    Excellent work at this debate. You are a very poised speaker, and I was captivated when you spoke. Your arguments were good and you used good examples that the proposition failed to counter successfully. The example of Finland was well taken, and I liked your point that the problem of structural violence precedes prisons and therefore cannot be fixed by abolishing them. I was less taken by the example of Guantanamo Bay and thought that the expansion of the argument to prisoners of war was a bit of a stretch, but since no one constrained the definition and because your opponent did not successfully counter your example, you ended up on top. You have excellent speaking abilities and your rebuttal demonstrated your skill at argumentation. Sometimes I thought you were taking too much, and had you focused your argument just a bit more, it would have been more coherent. Congratulations on a job well done.
    (Do more research on Guantanamo Bay!)

    The decision is for the Opposition: Cooper Dean

    Reason for Decision:

    The winner of this round goes to the Opposition. The Opposition provided compelling examples about the effectiveness of prisons in other countries than the US and challenged the alternatives presented by the Proposition with the example of prisoners of war. While the Proposition had the strong claim that prisons contribute to structural violence in America, this argument was not clearly shown. While the claim was made, more evidence and explanation of the definitions of the words being used were needed in order to make the argument compelling. Furthermore, the Proposition failed to adequately address the Opposition's claim that structural violence is a problem that comes before prisons. The Proposition dismissed this claim as racist and therefore irrelevant to the argument, but in fact the claim that racism is a larger social issue and not one limited to the institution of prisons was in line with the Proposition's argument. Furthermore, the Opposition included prisoners of war in the definition of prisons, and the Proposition failed to address how the abolition of prisons would deal with those types of prisoners. Congratulations to you both!

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