Posted by Paul Keenon on Aug 23, 2019

We’re ready to bring you into prison.  We’re ready to train you to coach an incarcerated team. 

The Justice Debate League coaches debate teams in prisons across the nation. They are currently working locally to get a team started at the DuPage County Jail

Learn more about the league at -

Katrina Burlet, founder of Justice Debate League


The Justice Debate League was started by a group of former collegiate debaters who connected over their common desire to see competitive forensics move behind bars. 

Though we all came from different states, schools and formats, we shared the vision of bringing the opportunities we had on our debate teams to people for whom the skills, knowledge and opportunities would surely be life-changing and liberating.

We are not the only debaters who know how impactful debating can be, and we are not the only debaters who believe that bringing debate behind bars is a powerful move toward justice and equality.  So we started working. 

In April of 2017, we started coaching in our first facility: a youth prison outside of Chicago.  The team has been successful, they love the opportunities they have had to compete, and we have used their success to fuel dreams of accessing higher education as well as the confidence that they can.

In fall of 2017, we started in our first adult facility.  The experience has been incredible.  Everyone has learned so much.  The men in Stateville Correctional Center love the chance to learn.  They had been asking for a debate team in the facility for years – something, we have found, is true in lots of correctional centers. 

So for twelve months we grappled with the system, developed training for coaches entering prison, developed resources for incarcerated debaters, and navigated the correctional system so that we can confidently lead others in doing the same.  

We’re ready to answer your questions.  We’re ready to bring you into prison.  We’re ready to train you to coach an incarcerated team.  And we want to do it in as many places as possible.  We want debate to be made available to everyone who wants to partake.  Right now there is a massive group of people that is barred from the debate community.  It’s time to welcome them in.