Who are we?

 The Justice Debate League consists of a growing number of debate teams that exist behind bars.  JDL teams are trained in their facilities using the same  materials, level of coaching, and resources as their non-incarcerated counterparts. Whenever possible, the teams participate in official competitions and compete against their peers.  JDL teams compete at both high school and college levels. 

Who are we?

Organizational Structure

Decentralized with accountability.


A JDL team can be started by any qualified debate coach. We want as many incarcerated persons to have access to the broader debate community, resources, and competition as possible. We desire to equip and train anyone who is committed to coaching a JDL team. Once approved through our application process, a coach will be given access to our resource materials as well as our network of supporters throughout the debate community. That support, along with personal mentoring, will give a coach everything they need to successfully start a prison debate team. 


We are aware that every prison and detention facility has its own security protocols and regulations. As such, the coach who is on site and working most closely with those managing the facility is placed to make decisions regarding the team's operation. Frequently as a new team is starting up, and regularly as the team continues operating, a JDL coach will be required to maintain contact with JDL’s director for purposes of continued mentorship, guidance, support and direction.


The NSDA provides support, encouragement, and access to the high school debate circuit for our juvenile teams.

School District 428 generously welcomed the first-ever JDL team to operate within their walls.  Without their support, JDL would never have gotten started.

JDL began through the training and support of Prison Fellowship.  The work they are doing to connect the outside community to the inside is admirable and thriving.

Tabú generously donated the time and skills for the creation of this website. Check out the work they are doing to provide education on tough issues surrounding sex!

Above are all organizations and groups without which the Justice Debate League could not function as it does. The generosity and support of each of them is greatly appreciated.