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Harvard Debate Team Loses To Prison Inmates (VIDEO)

The Harvard debate team recently lost a debate to a team of inmates convicted of manslaughter trained by a Bard College program. The Young Turks recently shared their analysis of the debate with us:

Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss this story and explain why the United States needs to educate its prisoners.

Ana Kasparian explains what the Bard Prison Initiative is doing, “They want to make sure that they rehabilitate these individuals so when they’re out of prison they don’t go back to prison. Recidivism is a serious problem in the United States, most prisoners do end up going back to prison.”

Uygur points out the facts, “As a country we spend $212 billion imprisoning 2.3 million people in this country.” He adds that it takes $29,000 to keep an individual in prison and the U.S. has a 68% recidivism rate. According to research, providing inmates with an educational opportunity reduces the rate to 22%.

But, Kasparian points out why educational programs aren’t a norm in prisons, “Those working in the prison industry have an incentive to keep locking people up. So they don’t want to lower the recidivism rate, then they’ll be out of a job.”

Thanks to the Young Turks’ team for another great video.

For The Washington Post’s Peter Holley, the debate was an important reminder that mass incarceration results in the imprisonment of many intelligent people:

It sounds like an underdog story plucked from the pages of a yet unwritten Walt Disney screenplay — and in some ways, it is.

But it’s also worth pointing out the fallacy of our underlying assumptions about such a match-up — the first (and most pernicious) being that if a definitive link between criminality and below-average intelligence exists, nobody has found it.

Despite living behind bars, prisoners have recorded albums, produced fine literature, run lucrative criminal enterprises and mastered the ancient meditation technique known as Vipassana.

Meanwhile, at Christian Science Monitor, Patrick Torphy asked an important question about prison education:

So if prison education lowers the recidivism rate and makes the prison system more efficient, why hasn’t more money been invested in programs?

The TPP Handshake (Electronic Frontier Foundation via Flickr)
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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.