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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: Christian Chessman (University of Florida) vs. Opposition: Leslie Serrano (Wood River High School)

Judge: Halli Tripe (Unaffiliated)

Resolution: This house believes that prisons should be abolished

  • Christian Chessman
    Christian Chessman

    Leslie Serrano
    Leslie Serrano
    Click to begin

    Speech Details

    Click on the other tabs to watch watch that speech.

    Posted at April 19, 2015 10:34:52PM EST by Christian Chessman




    Posted at April 22, 2015 12:51:00AM EST by Leslie Serrano



    "Responsible Prison Reform Publications National Affairs." Responsible Prison Reform Publications National Affairs. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015. <>.

    The resolution is this house believes that prisons should be abolished

    A. Interpretation: The pro must be topical by specifying an advocacy that abolishes prisons.
    B. Violation: The pros advocacy is non-topical in that it doesnt abolish prisons and only focuses on one prison that they see fit to argue, therefore not fulfilling their burden.

    C. Standards:
    a. Predictability: The only way I can best back their position is by arguing against a plan that seeks to abolish prisons as the resolution is the only stable starting point we have as competitors. However, I should not be expected to argue against them making arguments that only focus on one scenario that they select within any number of prisons that exist that they could select and catch me off guard on. Without predictability, arguments will not clash because they are unable to engage one another unless it is on terms that they set. This is key to fairness because the resolution is predictable because it has been proclaimed as the topic of the debate.
    b. Ground Skew: The only way for me to have fair access to arguments is if the Proposition argues for the topic, which is to abolish prisons. They dont do this and they refer to something that they choose to have a skew in arguments I can make against it. They can pick any side that has more arguments and offense to gain for them as they have had all the time to prep out any answers I could potentially make against this one scenario This cuts down on any type of chance I have to say why prisons shouldnt be abolished. My ground is instead condensed to whether only one prison should be abolished which they chose to discuss likely due to the existing ground skew
    c. Literature Skew: Selecting Guantanamo Bay creates a huge research bias against me where there is very little that is written about why Guantanamo Bay is good as compared to why it is bad. Instead of being able to focus on prisons that do good work my opponent instead forces me into a corner where I have a disproportionate access to resources that they have a plethora of.
    D. Voters
    1. Fairness: If debate isnt fair, people will stop doing it if you can just cheat and win without fulfilling your burden
    2. Education: If the Affirmative can just avoid discussing the very important issue of whether we should abolish prisons by just focusing on one specific issue rather than the greater systemic problem that the writers of this topic hoped for us to debate.
    You should evaluate this under competing interpretations and absent them justifying their own interp you will always vote them down to ensure that future rounds dont have people read arguments that can cheat to win.

    FOllowing card font got messed up. So it doesn't show how I cut it.

    I negate the following resolution this house believes that prisons should be abolished

    abolition: the act of officially ending or stopping something merriam webster
    Prison reform is necessary to ensure that, the human rights of prisoners is protected and their prospects for social reintegration increased, in compliance with relevant international standards and norms.

    COntention 1
    To be effective and to preserve American democratic values, prisons also must be made more humane. Incarceration itself&#8197;&#8197;the experience of being separated from society, friends, romantic partners, family, and freedom, particularly if enhanced with mandatory work and substance-abuse treatment&#8197;&#8197;is sufficient punishment. While prisons and jails should be uncomfortable, there is no reason to allow inmates' suffering inside to be intolerable.
    To this end, there are several reforms policymakers should pursue in order to reduce the degradation to which inmates are currently subjected. First, violence cannot be permitted behind bars. The high prevalence of sexual violence,in particular, is the most inhumane aspect of the American prison system today: Although truly reliable data on sexual crimes anywhere are hard to come by, the best estimates&#8197;&#8197;generated by Cindy Struckman-Johnson of the University of South Dakota&#8197;&#8197;find that as many as one in five inmates may face coerced sexual contact behind bars during their stays in prison.
    After ignoring and even tacitly encouraging this abuse for a generation, the country finally started to take the problem seriously, prompting Congress to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003. That law, which established national anti-rape standards and facilitated the collection of statistics, has helped address the scourge, but it remains a significant problem that calls for more serious policy remedies. The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, created by the act, released a major 2009 report proposing some commonsense national standards which are&#8197;&#8197;zero tolerance, clear reporting guidelines for inmates&#8197;&#8197;that appear to be effective in preventing sexual abuse. These need to be applied to all detention facilities.
    But non-sexual violence also remains quite common, particularly in higher-security prisons. In fact, violence remains a constant threat in a great many other correctional facilities where gangs&#8197;&#8197;many motivated by racial-supremacist ideologies&#8197;&#8197;have enormous sway and power. Indeed, even in lower-security facilities, intimidation and terror can be common. Although extreme cases do exist, it's rare that the gangs actually "run" prisons. Instead they are given a few tacit privileges and the implicit right to use violence, including rape, against their enemies. By maintaining a suppressive atmosphere of terror, and by providing support groups of a sort for inmates, such gangs often make prisons easier to manage&#8197;&#8197;which is why they are tolerated by prison administrators. Of course, prison guards' convenience is no justification for such brutality.
    Instead of having to outsource the work of discipline and punishment to gang leaders, prison administrators should have more power and authority to decide inmates' treatment themselves. For such a change to be possible, however, policymakers must first reverse a number of popular&#8197;&#8197;but ultimately ineffective&#8197;&#8197;legislative and administrative decisions governing the operation of American prisons.
    All over the country, a "get tough" attitude has resulted in removing from many prisons everything from weights to certain television and radio programs and denying prisoners access to Pell Grants. But these policies, while perhaps appealing to the voting public, are clearly counterproductive. For example, weightlifting does help prisoners bulk up, but it also reduces idleness behind bars (a clear cause of violence) and may increase self-discipline. And removing weights doesn't stop inmates from increasing their physical strength anyway. Serving inmates "green baloney" and other barely edible food&#8197;&#8197;a practice that has won Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio significant public approval&#8197;&#8197;doesn't really save taxpayers any money, and may end up increasing costs when inmates become sick and require medical treatment.
    The point isn't that prisoners are entitled to weights, television, or good food. The concern here, rather, is that prison officials need to be able to grant inmates some privileges if only so they can take them away when prisoners misbehave. Trying to legislate in minute detail exactly what prisoners should and shouldn't do ties the hands of corrections officials and reduces their ability to discipline inmates humanely. In the end, this helps strengthen the power of prison gangs.
    Prisons and jails must of course remain fundamentally punitive institutions; conditions inside should be such that almost nobody should actually want to go to a correctional facility except, perhaps, as a last-ditch way of breaking a substance-abuse habit. But many of America's prisons are currently brutal in ways that ought to deeply offend basic democratic sensibilities. A few simple changes could yield enormous&#8197;&#8197;and, for many prisoners, life-saving&#8197;&#8197;improvements.
    Throught out my opponents case he argues that we must get rid of Guantanomo Bay which is just getting rid of one prioson which is not what the resolution asks from the aff the resolutions asks for the abolition of the majority of prisons. Also throught his case how the conditions are terrible at the camps I believe that we should talk about how in America their prisons that also have bad conditions but can be reformed by some of the counterplans i have suggested to make them more humane. THus making abolition inecessisary to better inmantes lives.
    The second reform policymakers should consider is related. The single most important cure for violence and brutality isn't any sort of secular conditioning. Rather, it is the intervention that has most often led people throughout the world to true inner change: spiritual conversion. While the ritual practice of religion itself&#8197;&#8197;Roman Catholic masses, Pentecostal healing services, Islamic Eid dinners&#8197;&#8197;is respected and even encouraged in correctional facilities already, its power to change lives remains remarkably underutilized, even after more than a decade of high-level endorsement of such faith-based approaches. Because a generation of militant secularism has prevented some of history's most effective self-help ideas&#8197;&#8197;those found in religious texts&#8197;&#8197;from reaching the people in greatest need of them, it will be some time before we discover all the ways in which faith-based service can aid those behind bars.
    Faith isn't magic, and good faith-based programs require rules, structure, resources, compassion, and demonstrated effectiveness, just as good secular programs do. While it is possible to force the otherwise unwilling to work or perhaps even study, compelling faith is neither possible nor desirable. Nonetheless, faith offers both the most important antidote to prison brutality and a true recognition of prisoners' humanity. In its best and highest forms, it can serve as the basis for restorative justice. For example, programs like the Prison Fellowship's InnerChange Freedom Initiative not only see to it that prisoners are punished but, by bringing victims and offenders together and repairing relationships, actually serve to partially undo the harm that criminals have done.
    Finally, prisons should consider using new technologies that allow inmates to remain in contact with society even as they are kept physically apart from it. The internet offers prisoners the ability to interact with the outside world and maintain family relationships in a limited way that can be monitored. Many heretofore expensive materials&#8197;&#8197;like educational courses and textbooks&#8197;&#8197;are free on the web. Other web-based resources, such as job listings (a great many jobs are now advertisedonly online), may help speed prisoners' re-entry into society.
    There are numerous web-based programs to earn a GED for free, and it is possible to earn an associate's degree online for as little as $2,000. We are likely only a few years away from similarly inexpensive courses being offered through the master's degree level. As Marc Levin, who runs the Right on Crime project for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, observes: "[T]he traditional model of classroom instruction is problematic [because] few prisons have enough inmates or resources to have a teacher and class at every grade level at which inmates actually function." Web-based education, on the other hand, would likely cost less than the GED and vocational programs that are now the mainstays of prison educational programs and would offer a much greater array of choices.
    While its inappropriate to allow prisoners to play computer games or visit dating web sites, some other resources might be made available to prisoners as a reward for good behavior. If printed newspapers are allowed, why shouldn't electronic ones be as well, particularly since newspapers are now read mostly online? E-books, too, should be made available inside prison walls. Even a limited subset of e-books could offer prisoners a far greater selection of literary options than a typical prison library as well as real opportunities for self-improvement. Moreover, because they are all electronically searchable, they may actually be easier to monitor than hard-copy books.
    There would naturally be challenges involved in policing the web and e-books, but those challenges would not necessarily be any greater than those involved in, say, overseeing telephone access. Like prison telephones, which are generally monitored and cost money for prisoners to use they could be provided by private contractors, who would have to meet certain standards and could recover the cost of providing the devices by charging inmates for their use. Prison administrators could also take advantage of the many software programs that monitor internet usage and block access to certain kinds of web sites. In the end, allowing more technology inside of prisons would relieve some of the brutality and tedium of prison life, while encouraging prisoners to be productive rather than idle (and dangerous).
    Prisons and jails must of course remain fundamentally punitive institutions; conditions inside should be such that almost nobody should actually want to go to a correctional facility except, perhaps, as a last-ditch way of breaking a substance-abuse habit. But many of America's prisons are currently brutal in ways that ought to deeply offend basic democratic sensibilities. A few simple changes could yield enormous&#8197;&#8197;and, for many prisoners, life-saving&#8197;&#8197;improvements.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 23, 2015 10:10:02AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz

    The decision is for the Opposition: Leslie Serrano

    Reason for Decision:

    The proposition failed to post their rebuttal video or contact the tournament administrator by the deadline, resulting in a forfeit.

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