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Binghamton Speech & Debate

Proposition: jessica seigal (Binghamton University) vs. Opposition: Nathan Stouffer (Wood River High School)

Judge: Guy Risko (Bard High School Early College)

Resolution: This house believes that prisons should be abolished

  • jessica seigal
    jessica seigal

    Nathan Stouffer
    Nathan Stouffer
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    Speech Details

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    Posted at April 21, 2015 10:22:58AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    1) Project Muse:
    Humans right quarterly
    title: All Too Familiar: Sexual Abuse of Women in U.S. State Prisons
    Nowhere to Hide: Retaliation Against Women in Michigan State Prisons
    Copyright 1999 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.

    2) ABC News
    title: Prison Rape Widely Ignored by Authorities
    author: Dan Harris

    3) Legislative Analyst's Office
    Title: How much does it cost to incarcerate an inmate in prison?

    4) Craig Haney
    University of California, Santa Cruz
    title: The Psychological Impact of Incarceration:
    Implications for Post-Prison Adjustment

    Posted at April 21, 2015 01:45:57PM EST by Nathan Stouffer



    I strongly negate the following resolution, This House believes that prisons should be abolished.

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    A building (or vessel) in which people are legally held as a punishment for crimes they have committed or while awaiting trial.
    To officially end or stop: to completely do away with
    Returning to prison after being released
    Being convicted of a crime and sent to jail

    Framework - My framework will be Lockes social contract.

    Elahi, Manzoor. "Social Contract Theory by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau."Social Contract Theory by Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau., 2015. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <>

    Under the contract, man did not surrender all their rights to one single individual, but they surrendered only the right to preserve / maintain order and enforce the law of nature. The individual retained with them the other rights, i.e., right to life, liberty and estate because these rights were considered natural and inalienable rights of men.

    So what this does is it treats people equally until they violate the rules of society in which they are punished.

    Contention 1 - The social contract justifies prisons

    Locke argued that people willingly come together in a society and form a government that protects the rights of the people. However, under this philosophy there are a few rights that will be taken away from some people for a time because they violated others rights. These are the inmates, they violated other peoples rights at one time, and they have to be punished in some form, thus we have prisons. Under this philosophy, you have to negate, criminals violated the rules and now they are being punished, making prisons necessary.

    Contention 2 - We should reform the prisons, not abolish them

    Now to clarify, just because prisons are necessary doesnt mean that we should leave inmates in the dump. The current prison system in many countries does not work very well, but does this mean that we should totally start off with a radically new system? No! When one tire blows in a car, you dont replace the whole car, you replace the tire. In this case the tire is the effectiveness and quality of the prisons. We should be making the current system better instead of replacing it entirely. Norway has a very good system.

    James, Erwin. "The Norwegian Prison Where Inmates Are Treated like People." Prisons and Probation. The Guardian, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <>.

    The first clue that things are done very differently on Bastoy prison island, which lies a couple of miles off the coast in the Oslo fjord, 46 miles south-east of Norway's capital, comes shortly after I board the prison ferry. I'm taken aback slightly when the ferry operative who welcomed me aboard just minutes earlier, and with whom I'm exchanging small talk about the weather, suddenly reveals he is a serving prisoner doing 14 years for drug smuggling. He notes my surprise, smiles, and takes off a thick glove before offering me his hand. "I'm Petter," he says. Before he transferred to Bastoy, Petter was in a high-security prison for nearly eight years. "Here, they give us trust and responsibility," he says. "They treat us like grownups." I haven't come here particularly to draw comparisons, but it's impossible not to consider how politicians and the popular media would react to a similar scenario in Britain. There are big differences between the two countries, [the UK and Norway] of course. Norway has a population of slightly less than five million, a 12th of the UK's. It has fewer than 4,000 prisoners; there are around 84,000 in the UK. But what really sets [the two countries apart is] us apart is the Norwegian attitude towards prisoners. Four years ago I [Erwin] was invited into Skien maximum security prison, 20 miles north of Oslo. I had heard stories about Norway's liberal attitude. In fact, Skien is a concrete fortress as daunting as any prison I have [he had] ever experienced and houses some of the most serious law-breakers in the country. Recently it was the temporary residence of Anders Breivik, the man who massacred 77 people in July 2011. Despite the seriousness of their crimes, however, I [he] found that the loss of liberty was all the punishment they suffered. Cells had televisions, computers, integral showers and sanitation. Some prisoners were segregated for various reasons, but as the majority served their time anything up to the 21-year maximum sentence (Norway has no death penalty or life sentence) they were offered education, training and skill-building programmes. Instead of wings and landings they lived in small "pod" communities within the prison, limiting the spread of the corrosive criminal prison subculture that dominates traditionally designed prisons. The teacher explained that all prisons in Norway worked on the same principle, which he believed was the reason the country had, at less than 30%, the lowest reoffending figures in Europe and less than half the rate in the UK.

    Posted at April 24, 2015 09:44:27AM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 24, 2015 01:17:21PM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    None available for this speech.

    Posted at April 25, 2015 02:36:22PM EST by Joe Leeson-Schatz



    None available for this speech.


    This match has been completed. Show the Decision.

    Submitted at April 26, 2015 01:17:21PM EST by Guy Risko

    Category jessica seigal Nathan Stouffer
    Use of evidence: 3 3.6
    Delivery skill: 3 3.6
    Coherence of arguments: 4 3.6
    Responsiveness to opponent: 3.9 3.7
    Identification of key points: 3.6 3.5
    Comments: I really appreciate your insistence on the historical failure of reform and the systematic nature of prison failure: but I think you could couch it better in the language of your opponent. The car has blown up, right?

    Simply waving away this comparison does little to sort of build your own arguments.

    Your argument about abolition needs to have a more fully articulated backing-- I understand that reform has failed, but there's a cap in what that really means.
    Spend less time re-peating your opponent args
    And make sure you are expanding your internal links: why is the social contract important? You're right that Locke says "people must be punished", but you're not making arguments for the value of Locke.

    Why do we need a workable system? You don't do a good job of talking about justice.. your warrants for things like "reform only because we need punishment" doesn't follow a solid line of warranted argumentation.

    Why would they "steal the cheese again"? And why anarchy? You make many claims but fail to warrant them fully.

    The decision is for the Opposition: Nathan Stouffer

    Reason for Decision:

    This is a difficult debate to judge because neither debater really gets to the end point of their arguments (i.e. fully explains the importance of their arguments).

    I voted for the opposition mostly because of the mere possibility of a reform movement working-- The proposition does not take advantage of some of the earlier arguments (taxes) or the courts argument to show the problem of reform.

    1 Comment

    Mr. Risko, thank you for judging and thanks for debating Jessica. - Nathan Stouffer on April 26, 2015 at 04:20PM EST

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