Category Archives: 2020-2021 Criminal Justice Reform Topic

An Analysis of Plan Texts from the Elimination Rounds of the 2021 NDCA and TOC

As part of my research on the evolution of plan texts in policy debate, I compiled the plan texts read by affirmative teams in the elimination rounds of the 2021 NDCA National Championship and Tournament of Champions.

In total, there were 49 elimination rounds at the NDCA and TOC. Thirty-six plan texts are included in this sample. Missing plan texts are due to two factors: I excluded critical affirmatives without traditional plan texts, and I was unable to locate the 1ACs from a few debates.

For reference, the 2020-2021 resolution was:

Resolved: The United States federal government should enact substantial criminal justice reform in the United States in one or more of the following: forensic science, policing, sentencing.

What observations can be made about this collection of NDCA and TOC elimination round plan texts?

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Resources For Learning The Politics DA

For better or worse, Biden’s presidency is likely to revitalize the agenda politics DA, a type of generic negative disadvantage that emerged during the 1970s and became ubiquitous at the dawn of the electronic research age in the mid-1990s.

The “golden age” of the politics DA lasted from the late 1990s to the early 2010s, but it fell out of favor during the latter half of the Obama administration and was rarely a staple of negative strategies during the Trump administration. While it is unlikely to return its previous level of ubiquity, the politics DA seems poised for a post-Trump renaissance.

The current cohort of high school and college debaters is too young to have experienced the politics DA’s “golden age” first hand. That’s also true for many judges, a reflection of just how long it’s been since the politics DA was the dominant negative strategy in high school debate.

As a new generation of debaters begins to learn the politics DA for the first time, there are many resources from earlier eras that can help them get up to speed. In this post, I’ll provide some historical context for the politics DA and share some recommended resources.

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The Very Old History of Abolition as a Negative Strategy In Debate

One of the most common negative positions on this year’s criminal justice reform topic is the abolition kritik, an argument that rejects the legitimacy of the carceral state writ large. In these debates, the negative does not defend the status quo; they defend more radical change than the plan proposed by the affirmative.

This form of negation can be confusing. Most beginning debaters are taught that an important difference between the affirmative and negative is their relationship to the status quo: the affirmative rejects it by proposing a change in policy, and the negative either defends it or proposes a different (but competitive) policy change.

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Podcasts About The Criminal Justice Reform Topic (Part 2)

In the first part of this two-part series, I shared five podcasts that are entirely about criminal justice reform and related issues. In this article, I will suggest individual episodes from other podcasts that are relevant to the criminal justice reform topic.

Some of the recommended episodes are from podcasts that regularly cover these issues; others are “one-off” episodes from podcasts that don’t normally cover them. Either way, all of these recommended podcast episodes are potentially useful resources for students preparing to debate the criminal justice reform topic.

This is not a comprehensive list; there are many more episodes from many other podcasts that students might find helpful when researching criminal justice reform-related topics. When curating this list, I focused heavily on episodes about prison and police abolition and on episodes from the last few weeks.

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Podcasts About The Criminal Justice Reform Topic (Part 1)

In “Using Podcasts To Become A Better Debater,” I argued that podcasts are an underutilized resource that can help debaters enhance their content knowledge and practice their listening and flowing skills. In the five years since that article was published, the podcast boom has continued to grow. In 2019, “at least 90 million U.S. consumers (27% of the population) listen[ed] to podcasts monthly.”

More new podcasts are being produced than ever before, and many are related to the issues that debaters will be researching for the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform topic. In this two-part series, I will recommend some of the podcasts that I think will be most useful for students as they study and prepare to debate criminal justice reform.

In this article — part one — I will suggest five podcasts that are entirely about criminal justice reform and related issues. All or nearly all of the episodes from these podcasts will be useful for debaters researching criminal justice reform.

In part two, I will suggest individual episodes from other podcasts that are relevant to the criminal justice reform topic. Some of these are one-off episodes from podcasts that normally do not cover criminal justice reform issues; others are from podcasts that cover those issues often but not exclusively.

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New Videos About The Criminal Justice Reform Topic

I’ve recently posted three new videos that will be helpful for students preparing to debate the 2020-2021 criminal justice reform topic:

The third video (“Lesson Plans…”) includes four “plug-and-play” lesson plans to help you organize small group discussions about criminal justice reform-related documentary films: The Thin Blue Line, The Central Park Five, 13th, and The Prison in Twelve Landscapes.

These three videos and the accompanying lesson plan documents are embedded below.

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