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Author Topic: Prison Reform Topic Paper  (Read 4758 times)
tnielson
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« on: April 02, 2011, 01:34:12 PM »

CSU, Fullerton would like to submit a prison reforms topic paper. 2006 was the last time we had an actual domestic only topic. The last couple (immigration, nukes, & ag) have been half foreign policy & half domestic. Prior to that was a foreign policy topic. It has been almost 5 years since we dealt with an important domestic issue. I think this topic is very debatable and may encourage critical teams to take a policy position. - Toni Nielson
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Ryan Galloway
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Posts: 119


« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2011, 03:26:59 PM »

I really like this idea.  While I think it will have an uphill battle winning, the notion of the conditions in our prisons is worthy of study.

A card to prove the importance:

US prisons are more racist than South Africa during apartheid:
Boyce Watkins, 4/4/2010 (Institute of Black Public Policy, U.S. Prisons More Racist Than South Africa During Apartheid,
http://www.bvblackspin.com/2010/04/04/prisoners-voting-rights/)
Many people throughout the world believe that South Africa during apartheid was one of the most racist regimes in the history of the world. In that society, black people were clearly considered to be inferior to whites and were denied equal access to education, medical care and basic public services. Even having sex with a person of another race was considered to be a criminal offense. Apartheid came to an end in 1994, under mounting international opposition, as the world argued that black people in South Africa were being subjected to an inhumane system that should not be tolerated by decent people anywhere. The United States was one of the countries that took the lead on the initiative to disband apartheid, passing the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, leading to sanctions against South Africa and demanding the release of political prisoner Nelson Mandela. It turns out that when it comes to our prison systems, though, the United States cannot claim the moral high ground that it once seemed to possess. According to data from the Prison Initiative, America incarcerates 5.8 times more black men per capita than South Africa did during apartheid. To add insult to injury, African Americans are roughly 6 times more likely to go to prison than whites, and black males are nearly 7 times more likely. These numbers are atrocious and an international embarrassment. It is about time that we did something about it. One has to wonder when America will let go of its commitment to racism and mass incarceration. We brag to the world that we are a free nation, but one has to wonder if this is the case when we incarcerate more of our citizens than any other country in the world. A disproportionate number of those citizens are African American, which has a destabilizing effect on the African-American family. After the period of incarceration is over, there is an even longer punishment administered to felons, including economic, educational and political disenfranchisement. In many states across America, felons are not allowed to participate in elections, get student loans or find a job. It is the children of these Americans who suffer most from this unjust punishment, and most of this pressure falls on to the African-American community. The Democracy Restoration Act is a bill being sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The act would restore voting rights for ex-convicts in federal elections. This can be an important first step toward helping our nation find a more productive way to engage ex-convicts without putting them in to a position where they feel disconnected from our democracy. Of course the Republicans don't support the act, because many of the felons would be Democrats. The truth is, though, that allowing felons the right to vote is the right thing to do. In the American Revolution, many screamed "No taxation without representation," so if felons are not allowed to vote, then they should not be required to pay taxes. The political re-engagement of ex-convicts should be followed by other forms of economic and educational engagement to give them incentives to live a productive life. America will be better when Fathers, husbands, Mothers and wives are rehabilitated from their mistakes and able to become productive members of society. Most Americans don't know that slavery was never fully abolished. Section 1 of the 13th Amendment has a clause that states that slavery is not abolished for those who've been convicted of a crime. Therefore, in the United States, we have a nation which firmly believes that convicted criminals do not have the same rights as the rest of us. While punishing criminals is an important part of any society, the truth is that the punishments in the United States do not always fit the crime. Not only do we over-incarcerate, irresponsibly slapping the label of "criminal" on far too many Americans, we also just "happen" to decide that most of those deserving of this label are black. Our country needs to be better than that, and it's going to take courageous action in order to get there.
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DarrenElliott
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2011, 02:18:40 AM »

Long overdue as a college topic.  Was my favorite topic I debated in HS!  An no real prison reform since then, over 18 years!  I look forward to your paper.
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jshane
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2011, 07:48:22 AM »

to anyone working on/advocating this paper:

what kind of policy advantages do you think this topic would access? what are potential topical mechanisms (increase funding/extend civil liberties/etc.)? obviously these answers will be found in the topic paper, but i'm just curious to hear some initial thoughts.
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tnielson
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2011, 12:17:56 AM »

Right now I am looking at offender reentry programs - some of it is funding; some of it is the creation of new programs. I think it accesses a wide range of advantages: economy, soft power, civil liberties, human rights, democracy, rule of law, & all sort of critical stuff.
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Hester
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Posts: 153


« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2011, 08:18:45 AM »

since high school debate has decided to recycle their space topic from 20 years ago, you should take a look at the high school prison overcrowding topic from 20 years ago...

the United States Federal Government should adopt a nationwide policy to decrease jail and prison overcrowding.


at least it's a start.

btw, it's funny how high school debate can be sooo bad at so many things and yet they consistently produce better resolutions that we do.  Huh

Right now I am looking at offender reentry programs - some of it is funding; some of it is the creation of new programs. I think it accesses a wide range of advantages: economy, soft power, civil liberties, human rights, democracy, rule of law, & all sort of critical stuff.
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nalexander
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Posts: 13


« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2011, 03:39:41 PM »

I am definitely interested in helping to write this paper, or at least to hear more information about it and figure out what I can do to help. My email is nicholas[dot]brady89[at]gmail[dot]com.
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