Boston Debate League

BDL Partners with Nashua Street Jail

March 14, 2021 | By Jackney Joseph

Boston Debate League Partners with Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department’s I-CAN Academy

Earlier this month, the Boston Debate League held the first session of our five-week engagement with pre-trial detainees at Nashua Street Jail. The Boston Debate League and the Nashua Street Jail are partnering to provide a debate experience for detainees ranging in age from 18-50, in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department’s I-Can Academy.

I-Can Academy was created for the detainees and sentenced men at the Suffolk County Jail in an effort to continue education and vocational opportunities. The I-Can Academy builds skills for success and, ultimately, helps serve to reduce recidivism.

The BDL and the Nashua Street Jail I-Can Academy share three objectives that undergird this collaboration:

  1. Fostering learning communities;
  2. Providing transformative education space for students; and
  3. Cultivating a culture where students believe they can do anything.

Our 5-week engagement will take place through April 6, when the program will culminate in a debate that will take place in-person at Nashua Street Jail. Over the course of the next few weeks, in preparation for the debate, students will be introduced to debate and the language and key elements of argumentation (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning); and they will practice supporting claims with evidence and making and responding to arguments.

The BDL created these sessions in line with its RESOLVED pilot initiative focused on engaging Black and Latino middle- and high-school aged young men in debate. The sessions will be guided by the I-Can Academy students’ interests and will focus on preparing them for the final debate.