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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Leslie Serrano (Wood River High School) vs. Opposition: David O'Neill (Binghamton University)

Judge: Randal Horobik (Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama)

Resolution: This house believes that prisons should be abolished

  • Leslie Serrano
    Leslie Serrano

    David O'Neill
    David O'Neill
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    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 20, 2015 07:48:09PM EST by Leslie Serrano



    speech (citations at the bottom)
    I affirm the following resolution This house believes that prisons should be abolished
    For further clarification i offer the following definition
    Prison abolition a political vision with the goal of eliminating most imprisonment, and creating lasting alternatives to punishment and imprisonment.
    Abolition isnt just about getting rid of buildings full of cages. Its also about undoing the society we live in because prisons both feed on and maintain oppression and inequalities through punishment, and violence,
    I also offer the following observations:
    1 we must admit that prisons can't be reformed, since the very nature of prisons requires brutality
    2 we must recognize that prisons are used mainly to punish poor and working class people
    3. we must replace prisons with different alternative programs.
    4. there are psychopaths and other people in any society who are too dangerous to be allowed to walk freely. Restraint in this case would be the only option and such people may have to be isolated from others for their own, and others, safety. Perhaps mental hospitals would be used, or an area quarantined for their use created (perhaps an island, for example). However, such cases (we hope) would be rare.
    5 .Prisons perpetuate and enable violence putting someone in a cage is violent in itself. Prisoners experience violence through physical and psycho-emotional assault, sexual assault and rape, harassment and neglect of many needs, especially health needs. Violence is also manifested in huge patterns of self harm and suicide, inside and outside prison, before and after sentences and interactions with the criminal justice system.

    Contention 1 Alternatives to imprisonment
    Elsewhere it has been shown that prisons provide no real safety for society and no real reform of criminals. Most people realize this, at least insofar as they agree that crime is generally caused by social factors and in the long run can be dealt with only by changes in the social and economic spheres. Why the logical next step of abolishing the prison system is not made seems to be because, as with other aspects of our society, it is easier to fall back on a distant and impersonal system that already exists than to try to create new alternatives.

    The elimination of imprisonment may at first seem like a radical step, but alternatives to imprisonment are already widespread-fines and probation are often used, and traffic law violators are sometimes sentenced to attend classes in driver education. The advocacy of prison abolition implies simply that other courses of action
    Contention 2- Destabilizes Communities
    prisons and rampant policing have served to destabilize our communities, largely communities of color and poor communities - removing family members from our communities, draining resources for essential social services, and pushing us to fear each other. Individuals can lose their jobs, homes and possessions, as well as loose or deeply affect their relationships with children, parents and other family, lovers, friends and social ties.
    Today's prison system should be abolished because it is a system predesigned and constructed to warehouse the people of undeveloped and lower economical communities. Under the existing social order men and women are sent to prison for labor and further economical gain by the state. Where else can you get a full day's work for two to sixteen cents an hour, and these hours become an indeterminate period of years. This is slave labor in 20th century America
    Contention 3
    Reconciliation is better than punishment

    Abolition does not mean that we don't hold people accountable for their actions. But punishment creates the opposite of accountability -- a sense of social isolation instead of responsibility to others. If anything, punishment makes future harm more likely since it encourages people to lash out. People who have seriously harmed another need appropriate forms of support, supervision and social and economic resources. We don't claim to have all the answers. In reality, we know that the dominance of prisons as a response to harm has kept many alternatives from developing. Though alternatives exist. In post-apartheid South Africa, for example, rather than try, punish and potentially imprison those who had done harm to others under apartheid, the new government set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission heard testimony of people who took responsibility for their actions and were held accountable without imprisonment. While the system may not have functioned perfectly, it does provide an alternative model for even horrendous offenses such as the genocide that occurred under apartheid. Abolitionists believe Basically reconciliation instead of punishment, is the proper response to criminal acts. The present criminal (in)justice systems focus on someone to punish, caring little about the criminal's need or the victims loss. The abolitionist response It seeks to restore both the criminal and the victim to full humanity, to lives of integrity and dignity in the community. Abolitionists advocate the least amount of coercion and intervention in an individual's life and the maximum amount of care and services to all people in the society.

    "An Argument for the Abolition of the Prison System." Property Is Theft. N.p., 31 Aug. 2009. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <>.

    "1. TIME TO BEGIN." Instead of Prisons Chapter 1. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <>.

    "What Is the Prison Industrial Complex? | Prison Abolition UK." Prison Abolition UK. N.p., 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <>.

    "What We Believe." Prison Abolition Movement. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <>.

    Posted at April 21, 2015 11:19:56PM EST by David O'Neill



    civil war era prison deaths:Benjamin Cloyd. Haunted by Atrocity: Civil War Prisons in American Memory.

    Posted at April 23, 2015 12:33:44AM EST by Leslie Serrano



    for-profit prisons goals of maximizing profits are at odds with the traditional goals of the criminal justice system, such as offender rehabilitation, reducing recidivism rates, increasing public safety, and lowering crime rates.
    The cost-cutting measures have been criticized for their relationship to inmate-on-inmate and guard-on-inmate (and vice-versa) violence which are a result of inadequate training, low pay, and high turnover of corrections staff as well as chronic understaffing. Further allegations of civil rights abuses range from inmate death and abuse, excessive force, medical neglect as well as allegations of employment discrimination.
    "Privately operated prisons appear to have systemic problems in maintaining secure facilities" concluding that for-profit/private prisons have significantly more escapes, homicides, assaults, and drug abuse compared to government-run prisons.
    they result in inadequate medical care, abuse, and other civil rights violations against the persons incarcerated in these facilities. Private prison companies have employed unqualified guards, resorted to excessive violence and cruelty to control inmates, and provided substandard medical care, resulting in unnecessary deaths.
    Fischer, Brendan. "Violence, Abuse, and Death at For-Profit Prisons: A GEO Group Rap Sheet." PR Watch. N.p., 26 Sept. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <>.

    Posted at April 23, 2015 09:39:11PM EST by David O'Neill



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 25, 2015 12:47:13AM EST by Leslie Serrano



    Thank you for a great round and sorry if the audio quality this time.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 25, 2015 11:13:10PM EST by Randal Horobik

    Category Leslie Serrano David O'Neill
    Use of evidence: 2.5 3
    Delivery skill: 3.5 3.5
    Coherence of arguments: 3 3
    Responsiveness to opponent: 2.5 3.5
    Identification of key points: 3 3
    Comments: Leslie, I'm sorry that I could not hear the second of your three speeches because of the privacy setting on the video.

    With regard to the case proper, while you cited several sources on the web site, no place in the actual reading of the case do you identify where or if those sources were actually used. This is a problem because you begin your case with a series of five observations that have no support with them. This is dangerous as they collectively form the underlying foundation and premise that your case for abolition is built upon. You are very open for an attack here because you do not offer any citations to give these observations validity. I would strongly urge you to address this if you advance to Round 3.

    That said, thank you for posting your initial speech as it made the audio issues in that video a non-factor, but there were a few areas where what was posted did not jibe 100 percent with what was said in the video, so you'll want to be cognizant of that moving forward as well.
    It is hard to accurately evaluate all of the above segments due to the missing video in the middle of this debate. I apologize as your overall score for this debate probably suffers as a result.

    Overall, I would renew my call to try and find a little more evidence to support your arguments, David. I think your command of the English language and your vocabulary both serve you well, but at some point the lack of evidence is going to catch up to you. You're moving in the right direction, but you're not there yet.

    You also appeared less at-ease on the negative side of this topic than you were in your Prop case, so you might want to devote a little more time to mapping out and considering your argument structure here so you can sound equally convincing and forceful on this side of the issue.

    The decision is for the Opposition: David O'Neill

    Reason for Decision:

    I am disappointed that I cannot evaluate the full debate because Proposition's first rebuttal -- a rather key speech -- is marked as private. I sent a private message to the Prop and my understanding is that the tournament director had previously alerted the Prop debater to the private status of the video. Clearly the Opposition was able to watch and react the video, but it was apparently marked private at some subsequent point.

    My inability to see this speech means that I am unable to determine what, if any, arguments were responded to by the Prop in that speech, what the responses were or the answers to the Opp case. I can deduce some of these arguments perhaps from the Opp rebuttal and comments in Prop's second rebuttal, but this would merely be conjecture on my part -- arguments in Prop's second rebuttal could, in fact, all be new ones and any imagined arguments I use to "fill in" the gap between Opp case and Opp rebuttal may or may not be accurate.

    I am left with no alternative but to award the win to the Opposition.

    1 Comment

    Thank you so much for your constructive advice judge, I will assimilate your recommendations into any future rounds if I qualify. Thank you Leslie for a spirited and great round! I wish you luck in your future endeavors and am confident you will succeed in whatever you choose to do. - David O'Neill on April 26, 2015 at 12:44AM EST

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