Boise State debate team teaches inmates communications skills

The school’s debate team taught more than a dozen inmates speech and debate skills.
The school’s debate team taught more than a dozen inmates speech and debate skills. | File photo

The Boise State Prison Debate Initiative, a program allowing Boise State University’s debate team to instruct inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Center, recently graduated its first class.

“We understand the benefits of educational programming in correctional facilities,” Lauren Bramwell, a guest communications lecturer and Boise State alumna who organized the initiative, said. “Higher education programs have been found to improve the social climate of prison populations, and we know that academic and vocational training are some of the strongest variables in decreasing post-release recidivism rates, which is why we wanted to implement this program.”

The program brought the Talkin’ Broncos, as the school’s debate team is known, to the prison to teach more than a dozen inmates speech and debate skills over a 14-week period, allowing them to learn about interviewing, public presentation, research, writing and advocacy.

“Watching the inmates grow and be successful was honestly life changing for me, and I am grateful to have gotten to be a part of the program,” Talkin’ Broncos Vice President Mackenzie Moss said. “One inmate expressed to me that he found a new reason to get out of bed in the morning and to live. He said that before it was hard to have much hope even for life post-release, but that after joining the program he felt impassioned to learn and to live up to his potential.”

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