The Prisoners That Won A Debate With Harvard Debate Team

Grace Higgins | August 8th, 2019

If you saw the line up has a Harvard debate team on it, then you could surely be forgiven for betting on Harvard. After all it is a top University in the world so their debate team must phenomenal, right?

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And if you saw their opponents were a prison team, well you would have thought it was a sure deal. But this is where you will have it all wrong.

You see the maximum-security inmates are part of the Bard initiative, new program that offers college education for prisoners. This was Bard College debate team and they already have an impressive record. Winning debates against the University of Vermont and a team from the United States military at West Point.

Located in upstate New York the Bard College is pushing the boundaries of what we know of prison life and how we see rehabilitation. A shining star in an industry that is seen to be tainted and filled with corruption.

And the results have been actually amazing with the Bard Prison College initiative reporting just 2% of their inmates return to prison after release. Which is a stark contrast to prisoners who are not part of the program, where the return to prison rate is much higher.

Most of the inmates realize that the Bard education program is a life changing opportunity for them which is why they throw themselves into this program. And it doesn’t come easy, their debate team has to face several difficulties such as no internet access when preparing for a debate.

There are also several hurdles to overcome just to join the debate team, requiring special permission from a prison guard. Polanco one of the top Bard College debaters, aged 31, and in prison for manslaughter has said multiple times how lucky he feels to be part of the program.

Located in upstate New York the Bard College is pushing the boundaries of what we know of prison life and how we see rehabilitation. A shining star in an industry that is seen to be tainted and filled with corruption.

And the results have been actually amazing with the Bard Prison College initiative reporting just 2% of their inmates return to prison after release. Which is a stark contrast to prisoners who are not part of the program, where the return to prison rate is much higher.

Most of the inmates realize that the Bard education program is a life changing opportunity for them which is why they throw themselves into this program. And it doesn’t come easy, their debate team has to face several difficulties such as no internet access when preparing for a debate.

There are also several hurdles to overcome just to join the debate team, requiring special permission from a prison guard. Polanco one of the top Bard College debaters, aged 31, and in prison for manslaughter has said multiple times how lucky he feels to be part of the program.

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