Meet The Teams
IYC - Chicago
The Illinois Youth Center in Chicago is a juvenile facility that houses male youth. Their team is the most recent to get started and the students in the facility are eager to continue learning!
Lincoln Correctional Center
Lincoln Correctional Center is a facility that houses adult males at both the medium and maximum security levels. The whole facility is excited about their new debate team which is learning the NFA-LD style of debate.
Pickaway Correctional Institution
Pickaway is a medium security institution for adult males. Beginning in July of 2018, the team is growing and eager to connect with collegiate teams!
IYC - Warrenville
The Original Justice Debate League Team
The Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville houses male and female juveniles. The team started in April of 2017 and competed in three tournaments across the last school year. The team has brought home multiple awards competing in high school policy debate.
The First JDL Team in an Adult Facility
Crest Hill, IL
Stateville Corrrectional Center is a maximum security adult, male facility that uses the British Parliamentary debate format.
On March 21, 2018, the Stateville debate team hosted a debate on the topic of implementing a parole board in the state of Illinois. After the debate, the Illinois Department of Corrections promptly cancelled the debate program, which had gotten the attention of many legislators and activists in Illinois. They have written a letter to Governor Rauner requesting for the program to be restored. You can read the letter
Testimonies from JDL Debaters
"My debate teacher took the time out to see what each one of our weaknesses was and helped perfect it. Mine was public speaking. So she gave me the tools of how to get over such a fear. She truly took out the time and effort to hear our concerns and work with the class. I would look forward to every Tuesday just to go to the class to learn more. Given that I plan to attend law school in the future, this was a much needed class."
"This class taught you that you could disagree with someone without it turning physical. This class taught me how to use productive communication skills that in turn helped me to better communicate in a positive way with others."
“The debate class, in particular, has taught me skills that are relevant for release. Through this class I have learned how to organize my thoughts and develop my arguments. I have overcome my fear of public speaking."
"I felt that I was in a class learning like another person outside of prison who attended her class would learn."
Beholders of these testimonies are kept anonymous for their safety.
JDL is currently working with experienced debate coaches and training them to operate in the prison environment. Shortly, they will begin establishing teams in prisons in Illinois, Texas, Florida and Louisiana.