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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Emily Thayer (Wood River High School) vs. Opposition: Samuel Owens (Winston Churchill High School)

Judge: Chase Hutchinson (Wood River High School)

Resolution: This house believes that prisons should be abolished

  • Emily  Thayer
    Emily Thayer

    Samuel Owens
    Samuel Owens
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    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 20, 2015 04:55:31PM EST by Emily Thayer



    Posted at April 21, 2015 11:56:26PM EST by Samuel Owens



    "Mental Disorders in America." Mental Illness Statistics. The Kim Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. <>.

    Gilligan, James. "Punishment Fails. Rehabilitation Works." The New York Times. The New York Times, 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <>.

    Posted at April 22, 2015 10:02:01PM EST by Emily Thayer



    Posted at April 24, 2015 01:42:11AM EST by Samuel Owens



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 24, 2015 09:56:55PM EST by Emily Thayer



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 26, 2015 08:23:41PM EST by Chase Hutchinson

    Category Emily Thayer Samuel Owens
    Use of evidence: 2.5 2.5
    Delivery skill: 5 2.4
    Coherence of arguments: 3 3
    Responsiveness to opponent: 2 2
    Identification of key points: 2 4.2
    Comments: I think you gave the best proposition speech I have seen in this online debate so far and that you should be very proud of the performance you gave. I honestly watched your first video and thought that you already had a huge leg up because of how comprehensive you were about the problem you were trying to identify. I think that something I would work on is making sure you continue to pull those points through the round by using all your speech time in later videos to ensure you cover all the points that you need to in order to win.

    I think you dug yourself a very deep hole by not responding to the argument they make about how we need to keep the 2.5 million people in jail in order to keep society safe. You never give an answer to this leading me to consider it a big problem in later speeches. I think you can make arguments about how community courts still could place someone on house arrest or something that wasn't a prison to ensure things are safe. It may not be the best answer but it would have at least been something for me to write down as a response.

    I think you let them bully you with their non-unique claims a little too much. I don't think you need to spend as much time as you do responding to their alternative causes for single parent homes. You can say yes, there are other causes but we should focus on the one that needs to be addressed with changes we can implement. Death, divorce, early pregnancy, adoption, and donor insemination are not reasons to avoid breaking down the harmful effects of prisons in my eyes. This is also true when they talk about alternative causes to mental illness. Just because people suffer from mental illness in other instances doesn't mean we should ignore the problem of people developing disorders while being incarcerated. They really misuse the correlation/causation argument here which you should really call them on.

    Their legal system argument made no sense and I think you did a good job pointing out how it was very unclear why suddenly prisons have to be viewed as separate from the law.

    I think the argument you bring up about wrongfully committed citizens was a good one and could be expanded on especially if you brought it up sooner in the debate.

    I do think you need to explain what reconciliation and community courts look like more. Your opponent didn't do the best job of raising questions, but if they had asked simple things like who runs these courts/is a trial held/is there a judge and jury would have exposed some grey areas in your case that never get resolved.

    They go all in on some of their reform arguments which you needed to answer better. The private prisons being less likely to reform is good but comes a little too late with not enough emphasis to be a big round defining issue. Their argument about economic shift to go away from private prisons isn't great but it at least is something that answers what you say more directly.

    I think you have a really great case and I really wanted to vote for you through the whole debate. I will explain more in my RFD but I really think that just being more responsive to your opponent would make this a slam dunk for you. You did a very great job and I encourage you to stick with debate as you show a lot of potential to grow on what I've heard is a great team with a very supportive coach
    I am going to be very honest with my feedback: I am incredibly reluctant to vote for you through the entire round. You make a lot of arguments that really were rather bad in the sense that they muddled the debate rather than seeking to clarify it.

    Your non-unique arguments are really frustrating. Finding alternative causes for the harms your opponent isolates are not reasons to say they are non-unique: it just means there are other root causes. I am not compelled by this argument especially when it is the main way you try to engage them. Your arguments about legal systems was also very unclear and seemed to be a largely unsupported argument that didn't make much sense in the grand scheme of the debate.

    Your reform arguments were okay and the best part of what you had debate wise. I don't know what you were advocating with the specific reforms besides therapy (but I also want to know what kind of therapy) but it still was at least a way for you to garner offense especially with the San Francisco example even if that could have benefitted from more detail as well.

    I think your answer to the community courts and restorative justice your opponent arguing for was decent in that they never did explain how these would work but I would have appreciated more engagement with some of the impacts rather than classifying them all as non-unique.

    You did a good job of prioritizing the concession they made about how 2.5 million people need to be imprisoned which is pretty devastating for them when it is never adequately responded to.

    Your responses to the economy argument weren't the best but they did do what was needed to show how private prisons being bad aren't a reason to abolish all prisons.

    The decision is for the Opposition: Samuel Owens

    Reason for Decision:

    This was a very good debate and both of you did very well. That being said, it still was a tough decision on my part as I felt I had to do a bit of work for both of you on arguments that you were winning on.

    I felt the round defining issue was that the proposition conceded 2.5 million people need to be imprisoned (by their own words) and the opposition did a sufficient job taking advantage of this. The opposition also garnered some offense by cutting down on recidivism through reform like in San Francisco. They also said they could possibly check back on some of the offense the proposition had when it came to destabilizing communities and mental health which was all that they really had going for it making it tough for them to come back form that when opposition was able to take some of that away from then.

    1 Comment

    I will say that this debate became very muddled at points for me so my feedback I am offering to both of you is to make more clear arguments that get impacted out in the round by answering the question "so what" when it comes to who ends up winning and what that looks like in the real world. If you have any questions about this round or just debate in general feel free to message me at any time. - Chase Hutchinson on April 26, 2015 at 08:24PM EST

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