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Press Release

Cal Poly to Host Holistic Justice Debate Competition on May 6

Contact: John Patrick

SAN LUIS OBISPO — The criminal justice system and its impact on underrepresented stakeholders will be the focus of a competition Saturday, May 6, between the Cal Poly Speech and Debate Team and visiting teams from Metropolitan State University of Denver, Patrick Henry College, the University of La Verne and the University of San Francisco.

The Cal Poly Speech and Debate Team and the Global Justice Resource Center will host the Holistic Justice Challenge from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. in the University Union (No. 65) Room 220. The keynote speaker and lead judge for the event is Maj. Gen. Mark Inch, former director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The competition is free and open to the public online and in person. (In-person seating is ample but limited.) Register for the livestream.

The Holistic Justice Challenge is a present-and-defend competition that aims to expand who is included in public discourse regarding the criminal justice system.

“Victims, prisoners, ex-convicts, guards, administrators, police, judges, and attorneys are routinely the focus of criminal justice system discourse; however, there are many underrepresented stakeholders whose lives are touched by the criminal justice system through no fault of their own,” said John Patrick, co-director of the Cal Poly Speech and Debate Team and a faculty member in Cal Poly’s Communication Studies Department.

“When community members are sentenced to prison, the effects of their incarceration are not only felt by the imprisoned individual, their victim(s), and criminal justice system employees. Families, neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, friendships, and other societal institutions and connections all feel the incarcerated person’s absence, yet rarely are their interests represented in our public discourse,” Patrick said.

This event challenges participating teams to identify two stakeholder groups and argue why they should be prioritized in the criminal justice system discourse. The goal is not to indicate that any stakeholders are unworthy of consideration, but that prioritizing specific stakeholder interests would result in a more just world compared to the status quo and possible alternatives.

The schedule is as follows:

Saturday, May 6

  1. 10-10:30 a.m.: Opening remarks from Co-Director of the Cal Poly Debate Team John Patrick, Executive Director of the Global Justice Resource Center John Gannon, and President of the Global Justice Resource Center Uju Agomoh.
  2. 10:30 a.m.: Keynote address by Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Mark Inch.
  3. 11:30 a.m.: Competitor Q&A session with Maj. Gen. Mark Inch.
  4. Noon: Lunch break.
  5. 1:30 p.m.: Competition Phase 1, case presentation.
  6. 2:45 p.m.: Competition Phase 2, case updates.
  7. 3:15 p.m.: Competition Phase 3, judge deliberation, and community comment
  8. 3:45 p.m.: Winner is announced, judges explain their decision, awards are distributed, teams and judges are thanked.

Register to attend virtually: