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Prisoners Win Debate Against Harvard Debate Team

Sherry Rucherman

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If you wanted to place bets on who would be the winning debate team in a competition between Harvard University, one of the most prestigious schools in the country, and a team of prisoners, it would be a safe bet to place it on Harvard. However, you would have been wrong and if you actually bet money, you would have lost.

The maximum-security inmates that won this debate are part of the Bard Initiative. This is a new program that offers a college education for prisoners. The Bard College debate team already has an impressive record. Not only has the team won against Harvard but also a team from the University of Vermont and West Point.

The debate was about whether public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to students who are undocumented.

Bard College is located in Upstate New York and is pushing boundaries on what prison life should be and how rehabilitation should be done. It has been seen as a shining star in an industry that is normally tainted and full of corruption. The results of the program have been pretty amazing. The Bard Prison College reports that just 2% of their imamates ever return to prison after release. Prisoners who aren’t part of the program return to prison at a much higher rate. The college reports that 97.5% of graduates who get released from prison never go back.

Many of the inmates realize that the Bard education program can be a life-changing opportunity and this is why they give everything they have to the program. It also isn’t easy. The debate team faces several difficulties when preparing for a debate. In today’s society, it makes sense to use the Internet in order to prepare for a debate but the inmates have no Internet access.

There are also many hurdles to overcome in order to join the debate team. It requires special permission from a prison guard. One of the top debaters is in prison for manslaughter and has said that he feels very lucky to be a part of the program.

The Bard Prison Initiative program works to redefine the affordability, availability, and expectations that are usually associated with higher education in the country. Since 2001, the program has created plenty of groundbreaking opportunities for college within the prison system. These programs can help transform any negative impacts create access to higher learning. Today, the program currently has over 300 students in full-time programs that end in degrees from Bard College. It also offers support for the alumni in and around New York City.

The student body of the program mostly mirrors that of the prison system. Many students come from communities that didn’t have educational opportunities and many are impacted by crime and incarceration. The majority of the inmates in the program were first arrested as children. Some did end up completing high school but most earned a GED in prison. Once enrolled, students engage with the college full term and have a course of study that matches the intensity of any normal undergraduate learning experience. After release from prison, the alumni of the program become taxpaying independent citizens. Some go on to attend graduate school while others have careers in human services, the arts, media, and business. These individuals contribute to their communities just as you would expect from any college graduate.

The newest initiative, the Bard Microcollege, further expands this scope of work and helps deliver liberal arts educations to isolated communities outside the prison system through partnerships with different community-based institutions. 

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Wild Kitty

Now, if your attention was immediately pulled in by the glaring woman, we wouldn’t blame you for missing what is really going on in this picture. Let your eyes drift a bit further south. Not like that, pervert! Nestled in a hidden, smol, cozy lil nest is the exact type of wild kitty we want to run into on the bus.

tineye

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