his isn’t the first time that the prison debate team has defied odds, having beaten the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in the spring of 2014, as well as a nationally ranked team from the University of Vermont later that year.What makes the accomplishment even more impressive is that the inmates are not given internet access in preparation for the competition. The group must rely solely upon books and articles, which they must request and often have to wait weeks before receiving.
While some may argue that, given their circumstance, the inmates have nothing but time to prepare for the competition, it is nevertheless hard to believe that their success does not shatter most of our preconceived notions about them. I personally loved reading this story, since it reminded me not to let someone’s past dictate how I feel about them in the present. We all have the power to completely transform ourselves at any given point in our life.
The three inmates are a part of the Bard Prison Initiative, which started in 2001 with the intention of giving liberal arts educations to motivated inmates. What is particularly impressive about the initiative is that, according to program leaders, out of the over 300 alumni less than 2% returned to prison within 3 years.
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